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Haec rei et jungit, juncto* et lervat imicoi. 

Hor. Lib. i. Sat. 3. 

Ai in water face aniwereth to face, to th 

bcart of man to man. Prov. xxvii. 19. 






DEC I 7 1965 


" 5V/y Cardiphonia" as William Copper bap 
tized this bookj is an English classic of rare 
excellence and of very high value. Very much 
what Cowpers own tetters are in pure literature, 
that bis friend s letters are in the literature of 
personal and evangelical religion. 

" $fewton*3 most distinctive office in the great 
Evangelical ReViVal was to be a writer of spiritual 
letters." And " the letters are full of passages 
hardly surpassed for their genuine beauty." The 
truth is the whole Cardiphonia is a volume of the 
purest apostolical and evangelical truth, written 
in a strong, clear, level, and idiomatic English 
style. For myself, I keep John ^(ewton on my 
se lee test shelf of spiritual books : by far the 
best kind of books in the whole world of books. 
In my opinion you are doing your publishing 


what appears under his name, that circumstance has some 
times given occasion to an indiscriminate and injudicious 
publication of letters collected from all quarters, in which 
more attention is paid to the bulk than the value. For 
amongst a number of letters written to intimate friends, 
some will be too trivial to deserve notice, and others may be 
so intermingled with details of private or domestic concerns, 
as perhaps to give pain to those who are interested in them, 
when they see them in print. The writer of the following 
Letters thought himself more competent to decide at present, 
which and how much of the papers before him might be not 
utterly unworthy of being preserved, than a stranger could 
be after his decease. 

Farther, he finds, that between an increase of engagements 
on the one hand, and the unavoidable effects of advancing 
years on the other, he can expect but little leisure or ability 
for writing letters in future, except upon necessary business. 
By this method of sending to each of his correspondents 
many letters at once, he takes leave of them with the less 
regret, persuaded that he thus communicates the substance 
of all he could offer, if he was able to write to them severally 
as often and as much at large as in times past. 

Though some attention has been paid to variety, it was 
not practicable wholly to avoid what may be thought 
repetition, without destroying the texture and connexion 
of many letters ; particularly in those which treat of afflic 
tion. But where the same subject recurs, it is usually 
placed in something of a different point of view, or illustrated 
in a different manner. 


Thus much to bespeak the reader s favourable and candid 
perusal of what is now put into his hands. But the writer 
stands before a higher tribunal, and would be much to be 
pitied if he were not conscious, that in this publication he 
has no allowed aims, but to be subservient to the gracious 
designs of God by the Gospel, and to promote the good of his 

Nov. 19, 1780. 



MY LORD, March 1765. 

I REMEMBER, when I once had the pleasure of waiting 
on you, you were pleased to begin an interesting con 
versation, which, to my concern, was soon interrupted. 
The subject was concerning the causes, nature, and marks 
of a decline in grace ; how it happens that we lose that 
warm impression of divine things, which in some favoured 
moments we think it almost impossible to forget ; how far 
this change of frame is consistent with a spiritual growth in 
other respects ; how to form a comparative judgment of 
our proficiency upon the whole ; and by what steps the 
losses we sustain from our necessary connexions with a 
sinful nature and a sinful world may be retrieved from time 
to time. I beg your Lordship s permission to fill up the 
paper with a view to these inquiries. I do not mean to 
offer a aboured essay on them, but such thoughts as shall 
occur while the pen is in my hand. 

The awakened soul (especially when, after a season of 
distress and terror, it begins to taste that the Lord is gracious) 
finds itself as in a new world. No change in outward life 
can be so sensible, so affecting. No wonder, then, that at 
such a time little else can be thought of ; the transition from 
darkness to light, from a sense of wrath to a hope of glory, 
is the greatest that can be imagined, and is oftentimes as 
sudden as wonderful. Hence the general characteristics 
of young converts are zeal and love. Like Israel at the 
Red Sea, they have just seen the wonderful works of the 
Lord, and they cannot but sing His praise ; they are deeply 


affected with the danger they have lately escaped, and with 
the case of multitudes around them, who are secure and 
careless in the same alarming situation ; and a sense of 
their own mercies, and a compassion for the souls of others, 
is so transporting, that they can hardly forbear preaching 
to every one they meet. 

This emotion is highly just and reasonable, with respect 
to the causes from whence it springs ; and it is doubtless 
a proof, not only of the imperfection, but the depravity of our 
nature, that we are not always thus affected ; yet it is not 
entirely genuine. If we examine this character closely, 
which seems at first sight a pattern and a reproof to Christians 
of longer standing, we shall for the most part find it 
attended with considerable defects. 

1. Such persons are very weak in faith. Their confidence 
arises rather from the lively impressions of joy within, than 
from a distinct and clear apprehension of the work of God in 
Christ. The comforts which are intended as cordials to 
animate them against the opposition of an unbelieving 
world, they mistake and rest in as the proper evidences of 
their hope. And hence it conies to pass, that when the 
Lord varies His dispensations, and hides His face, they are 
soon troubled and at their wits end. 

2. They who are in this state of their first love are seldom 
free from something of a censorious spirit. They have not 
yet felt all the deceitfulness of their own hearts ; they are 
not well acquainted with the devices or temptations of 
Satan ; and therefore know not how to sympathize or make 
allowances, where allowances are necessary and due, and 
can hardly bear with any who do not discover the same 
earnestness as themselves. 

3. They are likewise more or less under the influence of 
self-righteousness and self-will. They mean well ; but not 
being as yet well acquainted with the spiritual meaning 
and proper use of the law, nor established in the life of faith, 
a part (oftentimes a very considerable part) of their zeal 
spends itself in externals and non-essentials, prompts them 
to practise what is not commanded, to refrain from what is 
lawful, and to observe various and needless austerities and 
singularities, as their tempers and circumstances differ. 

However, with all their faults, methinks there is some- 


thing very beautiful and engaging in the honest vehemence 
of a young convert. Some cold and rigid judges are ready 
to reject these promising appearances, on account of inci 
dental blemishes. But would a gardener throw away a fine 
nectarine, because it is green, and has not yet attained all 
that beauty and flavour which a few more showers and suns 
will impart ? Perhaps it will hold for the most part in grace 
as in nature (some exceptions there are), if there is not some 
fire in youth, we can hardly expect a proper warmth in old 

But the great and good Husbandman watches over what 
His own hand has planted, and carries on His work by a 
variety of different, and even contrary dispensations. 
While their mountain stands thus strong, they think they 
shall never be moved ; but at length they find a change. 
Sometimes it comes on by insensible degrees. That part of 
their affection which was purely natural, will abate of course 
when the power of novelty ceases ; they will begin, in some 
instances, to perceive their own indiscretions, and an en 
deavour to correct the excesses of imprudent zeal will often 
draw them towards the contrary extreme of remissness ; 
the evils of their hearts, which, though overpowered, were 
not eradicated, will revive again : the enemy will watch his 
occasions to meet them with suitable temptations ; and as 
it is the Lord s design that they should experimentally learn 
and feel their own weakness, he will, in some instances, be 
permitted to succeed. When guilt is thus brought upon 
the conscience, the heart grows hard, the hands feeble, and 
the knees weak ; then confidence is shaken, the spirit of 
prayer interrupted, the armour gone, and thus things grow 
worse and worse, till the Lord is pleased to interpose : for 
though we can fall of ourselves, we cannot rise without His 
help. Indeed, every sin, in its own nature, has a tendency 
towards a final apostacy ; but there is a provision in the 
covenant of grace, and the Lord, in His own time, returns to 
convince, humble, pardon, comfort, and renew the soul. 
He touches the rock, and the waters flow. By repeated 
experiments and exercises of this sort (for this wisdom is 
seldom acquired by one or a few lessons), we begin at length 
to learn that we are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing, 
but sin. And thus we are gradually prepared to live more 


out of ourselves, and to derive all our sufficiency of every 
kind from Jesus, the fountain of grace. We learn to tread 
more warily, to trust less to our own strength, to have lower 
thoughts of ourselves, and higher thoughts of Him ; in 
which two last particulars I apprehend what the Scripture 
means by a growth of grace does properly consist. Both are 
increasing in the lively Christian : every day shows him 
more of his own heart, and more of the power, sufficiency, 
compassion, and grace of his adorable Redeemer ; but 
neither will be complete till we get to Heaven. 

I apprehend, therefore, that though we find an abatement 
of that sensible warmth of affection which we felt at first 
setting out ; yet if our views are more evangelical, our 
judgment more ripened, our hearts more habitually humbled 
under a sense of inward depravity, our tempers more softened 
into sympathy and tenderness ; if our prevailing desires 
are spiritual, and we practically esteem the precepts, 
ordinances, and people of God ; we may warrantably con 
clude, that His good work of grace in us is, upon the whole, 
on an increase. 

But still it is to be lamented, that an increase of know 
ledge and experience should be so generally attended with 
a decline of fervour. If it was not for what has passed in 
my own heart, I should be ready to think it impossible. 
But this very circumstance gives me a still more emphatical 
conviction of my own vileness and depravity. The want of 
humiliation humbles me, and my very indifference rouses 
and awakens me to earnestness. There are, however, sea 
sons of refreshment, ineffable glances of light and power upon 
the soul, which, as they are derived from clearer displays 
of divine grace, if not so tumultuous as the first joys, are more 
penetrating, transforming, and animating. A glance of 
these, when compared with our sluggish stupidity when they 
are withheld, weans the heart from this wretched state of 
sin and temptation, and makes the thoughts of death and 
eternity desirable. Then this conflict shall cease ; I shall 
sin and wander no more, see Him as He is, and be like Him 
for ever. 

If the question is, How are these bright moments to be 
prolonged, renewed, or retrieved ? we are directed to faith 
and diligence. A careful use of the appointed means of 


grace, a watchful endeavour to avoid the occasions and 
appearances of evil, and especially assiduity in secret prayer, 
will bring us as much of them as the Lord sees good for us. 
He knows best why we are not to be trusted with them 
continually. Here we are to walk by faith, to be exercised 
and tried ; by and by we shall be crowned, and the desires 
He has given shall be abundantly satisfied. 

I am, &c. 


MY LORD, April 1766. 

I SHALL embrace your permission to fill my paper. 
As to subject, that which has been a frequent theme of 
my heart of late, I shall venture to lay before your Lordship. 
I mean the remarkable and humbling difference, which 
I suppose all who know themselves may observe, between 
their acquired and their experimental knowledge, or, in 
other words, between their judgment and their practice. 
To hear a believer speak his apprehensions of the evil of sin, 
the vanity of the world, the love of Christ, the beauty of 
holiness, or the importance of eternity, who would not 
suppose him proof against temptation ? To hear with 
what strong arguments he can recommend watchfulness, 
prayer, forbearance, and submission, when he is teaching 
or advising others, who would not suppose but he could 
also teach himself, and influence his own conduct ? Yet, 
alas ! Quam disfiar sibi ! The person who rose from his 
knees, before he left his chamber, a poor indigent, fallible, 
dependent creature, who saw and acknowledged that he 
was unworthy to breathe the air or to see the light, may meet 
with many occasions, before the day is closed, to discover the 
corruptions of his heart, and to show how weak and faint 
his best principles and clearest convictions are in their actual 
exercise. And in this view, how vain is man ! what a 
contradiction is a believer to himself ! He is called a be 
liever emphatically, because he cordially assents to the word 
of God ; but, alas ! how often unworthy of the name ! 


If I was to describe him from the Scripture-character, T 
should say, he is one whose heart is athirst for God, for His 
glory, His image, His presence : his affections are fixed 
upon an unseen Saviour : his treasures, and consequently 
his thoughts, are on high, beyond the bounds of sense. 
Having experienced much forgiveness, he is full of bowels 
of mercy to all around ; and having been often deceived by 
his own heart, he dares trust it no more, but alive by faith in 
the Son of God, for wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, 
and derives from Him grace for grace ; sensible that without 
Him he has not sufficiency even to think a good thought. 
In short, he is dead to the world, to sin, to self, but alive to 
God, and lively in His service. Prayer is his breath, the 
word of God his food, and the ordinances more precious to 
him than the light of the sun. Such is a believer in his 
judgment and prevailing desires. 

But was I to describe him from experience, especially 
at some times, how different would the picture be ! Though 
he knows that communion with God is his highest privilege, 
he too seldom finds it so ; on the contrary, if duty, con 
science, and necessity did not compel, he would leave the 
throne of grace unvisited from day to day. He takes up 
the Bible, conscious that it is the fountain of life and true 
comfort ; yet, perhaps, while he is making the reflection, he 
feels a secret distaste which prompts him to lay it down, and 
give his preference to a newspaper. He needs not to be 
told of the vanity and uncertainty of all beneath the sun ; 
and yet is almost as much elated or cast down by a trifle, 
as those who have their portion in this world. He believes 
that all things shall work together for his good, and that 
the most high God appoints, adjusts, and over-rules all his 
concerns ; yet he feels the risings of fear, anxiety, and 
displeasure, as though the contrary was true. He owns 
himself ignorant, and liable to be deceived by a thousand 
fallacies ; yet is easily betrayed into positiveness and self- 
conceit. He feels himself an unprofitable, unfaithful, un 
thankful servant, and therefore blushes to harbour a thought 
of desiring the esteem and commendations of men, yet he 
cannot suppress it. Finally, (for I must observe some 
bounds,) on account of these and many other inconsist 
encies, he is struck dumb before the Lord, stripped of every 


hope and plea, but what is provided in the free grace of 
God, and yet his heart is continually leaning and returning 
to a covenant of works. 

Two questions naturally arise from such a view of our 
selves. First, How can these things be, or why are they 
permitted ? Since the Lord hates sin, teaches His people 
to hate it and cry against it, and has promised to hear their 
prayers, how is it that they go thus burthened ? Surely if 
He could not or would not overrule evil for good, He would 
not permit it to continue. By these exercises He teaches us 
more truly to know and feel the utter depravity and corrup 
tion of our whole nature, that we are indeed denied in every 
part. His method of salvation is likewise hereby exceeding 
ly endeared to us ; we see that it is and must be of grace, 
wholly of grace ; and that the Lord Jesus Christ, and His 
perfect righteousness, is and must be our all in all. His 
power likewise in maintaining His own work, notwith 
standing our infirmities, temptations, and enemies, is hereby 
displayed in the clearest light, his strength is manifested 
in our weakness. Satan likewise is more remarkably dis 
appointed and put to shame, when he finds bounds set to 
his rage and policy, beyond which he cannot pass ; and that 
those in whom he finds so much to work upon, and over whom 
he so often prevails for a season, escape at last out of his 
hands. He casts them down, but they are raised again ; 
he wounds them, but they are healed ; he obtains his desire 
to sift them as wheat, but the prayer of their great Advocate 
prevails for the maintenance of their faith. Farther, by 
what believers feel in themselves, they learn by degrees how 
to warn, pity, and bear with others. A soft, patient, and 
compassionate spirit, and a readiness and skill in com 
forting those who are cast down, is not perhaps attainable in 
any other way. And lastly, I believe nothing more habitu 
ally reconciles a child of God to the thought of death, than 
the wearisomeness of this warfare. Death is unwelcome to 
nature ; but then, and not till then, the conflict will cease. 
Then we shall sin no more. The flesh, with all its attendant 
evils, will be laid in the grave ; then the soul, which has 
been partaker of a new and heavenly birth, shall be freed 
from every incumbrance, and stand perfect in the Re 
deemer s righteousness before God in glory. 

C. B 


But though these evils cannot be wholly removed, it is 
worth while to inquire, Secondly, How they may be miti 
gated ? This we are encouraged to hope for. The word of 
God directs and animates to a growth in grace. And though 
we can do nothing spiritually of ourselves, yet there is a 
part assigned us. We cannot conquer the obstacles in our 
way by our own strength ; yet we can give way to them ; 
and if we do, it is our sin, and will be our sorrow. The dis 
putes concerning inherent power in the creature, have 
been carried to inconvenient lengths : for my own part, 
I think it safe to use Scriptural language. The apostles 
exhort us to give all diligence to resist the devil, to purge 
ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, to give our 
selves to reading, meditation, and prayer, to watch, to 
put on the whole armour of God, and to abstain from all 
appearance of evil. Faithfulness to light received, and a 
sincere endeavour to conform to the means prescribed in 
the word of God, with a humble application to the blood 
of sprinkling, and the promised Spirit, will undoubtedly be 
answered by increasing measures of light, faith, strength, and 
comfort ; and we shall know, if we follow on to know the 

I need not tell your Lordship that I am an extempore 
writer. I dropt the consideration of whom I was addressing 
from the first paragraph : but I now return, and subscribe 
myself with the greatest deference, &c. 


MY LORD, April 1770. 

I HAVE a desire to fill the paper, and must therefore 
betake myself to the expedient I lately mentioned. Glori 
ous things are spoken of the city of God, or (as I suppose) 
the state of glory, in Rev. xxi. from verse 10 ad finem. 
The description is doubtless mystical, and perhaps nothing 
short of a happy experience and participation will furnish 
an adequate exposition. One expression, in particular, 


has, I believe, puzzled wiser heads than mine to explain. 
The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent 
glass. The construction likewise in the Greek is difficult. 
Some render it pure gold transparent as glass : this is the 
sense, but then it should be neuter liatyavts to agree with 
xpwrtov. If our reading is right, we must understand it 
either of gold, pure, bright, and perspicuous as the finest 
transparent glass, (for all glass is not transparent,) or else, 
as two distinct comparisons, splendid and durable as the 
purest gold, clear and transparent as the finest glass. In 
that happy world, the beauties and advantages which here 
are divided and incompatible, will unite and agree. Our 
glass is clear, but brittle ; our gold is shining and solid, 
but it is opaque, and discovers only a surface. And thus it 
is with our minds. The powers of the imagination are 
lively and extensive, but transient and uncertain. The 
powers of the understanding are more solid and regular, 
but at the same time more slow and limited, and confined 
to the outside properties of the few objects around us. But 
when we arrive within the vail, the perfections of the glass 
and the gold will be combined, and the imperfections of 
each will entirely cease. Then we shall know more than 
we can imagine. The glass will be all gold. And then we 
shall apprehend truth in its relations and consequences ; 
not (as at present) by that tedious and fallible process which 
we call reasoning, but by a single glance of thought, as 
the sight pierces in an instant through the largest transpar 
ent body. The gold will be all glass. 

I do not offer this as the sense of the passage, but as 
a thought which once occurred to me while reading it. 
I daily groan under a desultory ungovernable imagina 
tion, and a palpable darkness of understanding, which 
greatly impede me in my attempts to contemplate the 
truths of God. Perhaps these complaints, in a greater 
or less degree, are common to all our fallen race, and ex 
hibit mournful proofs that our nature is essentially depraved. 
The grace of God affords some assistance for correcting 
the wildness of the fancy, and enlarging the capacity of the 
mind : yet the cure at present is but palliative ; but ere 
long it shall be perfect, and our complaints shall cease for 
ever. Now it costs us much pains to acquire a pittance of 



solid and useful knowledge ; and the ideas we have collected 
are far from being at the disposal of judgment, and, like men 
in a crowd, are perpetually clashing and interfering with 
each other. But it will not be so when we are completely 
freed from the effects of sin. Confusion and darkness will 
not follow us into the world where light and order reign. 
Then, and not till then, our knowledge will be perfect, and 
our possession of it uninterrupted and secure. 

Since the radical powers of the soul are thus enfeebled 
and disordered, it is not to be wondered at that the best 
of men, and under their highest attainments, have found 
cause to make the acknowledgment of the apostle, " When I 
would do good, evil is present with me." But, blessed be 
God, though we must feel hourly cause for shame and 
humiliation for what we are in ourselves, we have cause to 
rejoice continually in Christ Jesus, who, as He is revealed 
unto us under the various names, characters, relations, and 
offices, which He bears in the Scripture, holds out to our faith 
a balm for every wound, a cordial for every discouragement, 
and a sufficient answer to every objection which sin or Satan 
can suggest against our peace. If we are guilty, He is 
our righteousness ; if we are sick, He is our infallible Physi 
cian ; if we are weak, helpless, and defenceless, He is the 
compassionate and faithful Shepherd who has taken charge 
of us, and will not suffer any thing to disappoint our hopes, 
or to separate us from His love. He knows our frame, He 
remembers that we are but dust, and has engaged to guide 
us by His counsel, support us by His power, and at length 
to receive us to His glory, that we may be with Him for 

I am, with the greatest deference, &c. 


MY LORD, February 1772. 

I HAVE been sitting perhaps a quarter of an hour with 
my pen in my hand, and my finger upon my upper lip, 
contriving how I should begin my letter. A detail of 


the confused, incoherent thoughts which have succes 
sively passed through my mind, would have more than 
filled the sheet ; but your Lordship s patience, and even 
your charity for the writer, would have been tried to the 
uttermost if I could have penned them all down. At length 
my suspense reminded me of the apostle s words, Gal. v. 
17 : " Ye cannot do the things that ye would." This is an 
humbling but a just account of a Christian s attainments in 
the present life, and is equally applicable to the strongest 
and to the weakest. The weakest need not say less, the 
strongest will hardly venture to say more. The Lord has 
given His people a desire and will, aiming at great things ; 
without this they would be unworthy the name of Chris 
tians ; but they cannot do as they would : their best desires 
are weak and ineffectual, not absolutely so, (for He who 
works in them to will, enables them in a measure to do 
likewise,) but in comparison with the mark at which they 
aim. So that while they have great cause to be thankful 
for the desire He has given them, and for the degree in which 
it is answered, they have equal reason to be ashamed and 
abased under a sense of their continual defects, and the evil 
mixtures which taint and debase their best endeavours. 
It would be easy to make out a long list of particulars 
which a believer would do if he could, but in which, from 
first to last, he finds a mortifying inability. Permit me to 
mention a few, which I need not to transcribe from books, 
for they are always present to my mind. 

He would willingly enjoy God in prayer : he knows 
that prayer is his duty ; but in his judgment he considers 
it likewise as his greatest honour and privilege. In this 
light he can recommend it to others, and can tell them of 
the wonderful condescension of the great God, who humbles 
Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, that He 
should stoop so much lower, to afford His gracious ear to the 
supplications of sinful worms upon earth. He can bid them 
expect a pleasure in waiting upon the Lord, different 
in kind, and greater in degree than all that the world can 
afford. By prayer, he can say, You have liberty to cast all 
your cares upon Him that careth for you. By one hour s 
intimate access to the Throne of Grace, where the Lord 
causes His glory to pass before the soul that seeks Him, you 


may acquire more true spiritual knowledge and comfort 
than by a day or a week s converse with the best of men, 
or the most studious perusal of many folios : and in this 
light he would consider it and improve it for himself. But 
alas ! how seldom can he do as he would ? how often 
does he find this privilege a mere task, which he would be 
glad of a just excuse to omit ; and the chief pleasure he 
derives from the performance is to think that his task is 
finished : he has been drawing near to God with his lips, 
while his heart was far from Him. Surely this is not doing 
as he would, when (to borrow the expression of an old 
woman here) he is dragged before God like a slave, and 
comes away like a thief. 

The like may be said of reading the Scripture. He be 
lieves it to be the word of God : he admires the wisdom and 
grace of the doctrines, the beauty of the precepts, the rich 
ness and suitableness of the promises ; and therefore, with 
David, he accounts it preferable to thousands of gold and 
silver, and sweeter than honey or the honey comb. Yet 
while he thus thinks of it, and desires that it may dwell in 
him richly, and be his meditation night and day, he cannot 
do as he would. It will require some resolution to persist 
in reading a portion of it every day ; and even then his 
heart is often less engaged than when reading a pamphlet. 
Here again his privilege frequently dwindles into a task. 
His appetite is vitiated, so that he has but little relish for 
the food of his soul. 

He would willingly have abiding, admiring thoughts 
of the person and love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Glad he 
is, indeed, of those occasions which recall the Saviour to 
his mind ; and with this view, notwithstanding all dis 
couragements, he perseveres in attempting to pray and 
read, and waits upon the ordinances. Yet he cannot 
do as he would. Whatever claims he may have to the 
exercise of gratitude and sensibility towards his fellow- 
creatures, he must confess himself mournfully ungrateful 
and insensible towards his best friend and benefactor. Ah ! 
what trifles are capable of shutting Him out of our thoughts, 
of whom we say, He is the beloved of our souls, who loved 
us, and gave Himself for us, and whom we have deliberately 
chosen as our chief good and portion. What can make us 


amends for the loss we suffer here ? Yet, surely if we 
could we would set Him always before us ; His love should 
be the delightful theme of our hearts, 

From morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve. 

But though we aim at this good, evil is present with us ; 
we find we are renewed but in part, and have still cause to 
plead the Lord s promise, To take away the heart of stone, 
and give us a heart of flesh. 

He would willingly acquiesce in all the dispensations of 
divine Providence. He believes that all events are under 
the direction of infinite wisdom and goodness, and shall 
surely issue in the glory of God, and the good of those who 
fear Him. He doubts not but the hairs of his head are all 
numbered, that the blessings of every kind which he possesses 
were bestowed upon him, and are preserved to him, by the 
bounty and special favour of the Lord whom he serves ; 
that afflictions spring not out of the ground, but are fruits 
and tokens of Divine love, no less than His comforts ; that 
there is a need-be, whenever for a season he is in heaviness. 
Of these principles he can no more doubt than of what he 
sees with his eyes, and there are seasons when he thinks they 
will prove sufficient to reconcile him to the sharpest trials. 
But often when he aims to apply them in an hour of present 
distress, he cannot do what he would. He feels a law in his 
members warring against the law in his mind ; so that, in 
defiance of the clearest conviction, seeing as though he per 
ceived not, he is ready to complain, murmur, and despond. 
Alas ! how vain is man in his best estate ! How much 
weakness and inconsistency, even in those whose hearts are 
right with the Lord ! and what reason have we to confess that 
we are unworthy, unprofitable servants ! 

It were easy to enlarge in this way, would paper and time 
permit. But, blessed be God, we are not under the law, but 
under grace. And even these distressing effects of the rem 
nants of indwelling sin are over-ruled for good. By these 
experiences, the believer is weaned more from self, and 
taught more highly to prize and more absolutely to rely on 
Him who is appointed unto us of God, wisdom, righteous 
ness, sanctification, and redemption. The more vile we are 
in our own eyes, the more precious He will be to us ; and a 


deep-rooted sense of the evil of our hearts is necessary to 
preclude all boasting, and to make us willing to give the whole 
glory of our salvation where it is due. Again, a sense of these 
evils will (when hardly any thing else can do it) reconcile 
us to the thoughts of death ; yea, make us desirous to de 
part that we may sin no more, since we find depravity so 
deep rooted in our nature, that (like the leprous house) the 
whole fabric must be taken down before we can be freed from 
its defilement. Then, and not till then, we shall be able 
to do the thing that we would : when we see Jesus, we shall 
be transformed into His image, and have done with sin and 
sorrow for ever. 

I am, with great deference, &c. 


MY LORD, March 1772. 

I THINK my last letter turned upon the Apostle s 
thought, Gal. v. 17 : " Ye cannot do the things that ye 
would." In the parallel place, Rom. vii. 19, there is another 
clause subjoined, " The evil \vhich I would not, that I do." 
This, added to the former, would complete the dark side 
of my experience. Permit me to tell your Lordship a little 
part, (for some things must not, cannot be told,) not of 
what I have read, but of what I have felt, in illustration of 
this passage. 

I would not be the sport and prey of wild, vain, foolish, 
and worse imaginations ; but this evil is present with me ; 
my heart is like a highway, like a city without walls or 
gates. Nothing so false, so frivolous, so absurd, so impossible, 
or so horrid, but it can obtain access, and that at any 
time, or in any place : neither the study, the pulpit, nor even 
the Lord s table, exempt me from their intrusion. I some 
times compare my words to the treble of an instrument, which 
my thoughts accompany with a kind of bass, or rather anti- 
bass, in which every rule of harmony is broken, every 
possible combination of discord and confusion is introduced, 
utterly inconsistent with, and contradictory to, the intended 
melody. Ah ! what music would my praying and preaching 


often make in the ears of the Lord of Hosts, if He listened to 
them as they are mine only ! By men, the upper part only 
(if I may so speak) is heard ; and small cause there is for 
self-gratulation, if they should happen to commend, when 
conscience tells me they would be struck with astonishment 
and abhorrence could they hear the whole. 

But if this awful effect of heart-depravity cannot be 
wholly avoided in the present state of human nature, yet 
at least I would not allow and indulge it ; yet this I find I do. 
In defiance of my best judgment and best wishes, I find 
something within me which cherishes and cleaves to those 
evils, from which I ought to start and flee, as I should if a 
toad or a serpent was put in my food or in my bed. Ah ! 
how vile must the heart (at least my heart) be, that can 
hold a parley with such abominations, when I so well know 
their nature and their tendency ! Surely he who finds 
himself capable of this, may, without the least affectation 
of humility, (however fair his outward conduct appears,) 
subscribe himself less than the least of all saints, and of 
sinners the very chief. 

I would not be influenced by a principle of self on any 
occasion ; yet this evil I often do. I see the baseness and 
absurdity of such a conduct as clearly as I see the light of 
the day. I do not affect to be thought ten feet high, and I 
know that a desire of being thought wise or good, is equally 
contrary to reason and truth. I should be grieved or angry 
if my fellow-creatures supposed I had such a desire ; and 
therefore I fear the very principle of self, of which I com 
plain, has a considerable share in prompting my desires 
to conceal it. The pride of others often offends me, and 
makes me studious to hide my own ; because their good 
opinion of me depends much upon their not perceiving it. 
But the Lord knows how this dead fly taints and spoils my 
best services, and makes them no better than specious sins. 

I would not indulge vain reasonings concerning the 
counsels, ways, and providences of God ; yet I am prone 
to do it. That the Judge of all the earth will do right is to 
me as evident and necessary as that two and two make 
four. I believe that He has a sovereign right to do what 
He will with His own, and that this sovereignty is but 
another name for the unlimited exercise of wisdom and 

26 CARDIPH0^ 7 IA : 

goodness. But my reasonings are often such, as if I had 
never heard of these principles, or had formally renounced 
them. I feel the workings of a presumptuous spirit, that 
would account for every thing, and venture to dispute 
whatever it cannot comprehend. What an evil is this, 
for a potsherd of the earth to contend with its Maker ! I 
do not act thus towards my fellow-creatures ; I do not 
find fault with the decisions of a judge, or the dispositions of 
a general, because, though I know they are fallible, yet I 
suppose they are wiser in their respective departments than 
myself. But I am often ready to take this liberty when 
it is most unreasonable and inexcusable. 

I would not cleave to a covenant of works : it should seem 
from the foregoing particulars, and many others which I 
could mention, that I have reasons enough to deter me from 
this. Yet even this I do. Not but that I say, and I hope 
from my heart, Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, 
O Lord. I embrace it as a faithful saying and worthy of all 
acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save 
sinners ; and it is the main pleasure and business of my life, 
to set forth the necessity and all-sufficiency of the Mediator 
between God and man, and to make mention of His right 
eousness, even of His only. But here, as in every thing 
else, I find a vast difference between my judgment and my 
experience. I am invited to take the water of life freely, 
yet often discouraged, because I have nothing wherewith to 
pay for it. If I am at times favoured with some liberty from 
the above-mentioned evils, it rather gives me a more favour 
able opinion of myself than increases my admiration of the 
Lord s goodness to so unworthy a creature ; and when the 
returning tide of my corruptions convinces me that / am 
still the same, an unbelieving legal spirit would urge me to 
conclude that the Lord is changed : at least, I feel a weari 
ness of being beholden to Him for such continued multiplied 
forgiveness ; and I fear that some part of my striving against 
sin, and my desires after an increase of sanctification, arise 
from a secret wish that I might not be so absolutely and 
entirely indebted to Him. 

This, my Lord, is only a faint sketch of my heart ; but it 
is taken from the life : it would require a volume rather 
than a letter to fill up the outlines. But I believe you will 


not regret that I choose to say no more upon such a sub 
ject. But though my disease is grievous, it is not desperate ; 
I have a gracious and infallible Physician. I shall not 
die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. 

I remain, my Lord, &c. 


MY LORD, April 1772. 

MY two last letters turned upon a mournful subject, 
the depravity of the heart, which impedes us when we 
would do good, and pollutes our best intended services with 
evil. We have cause, upon this account, to go softly all our 
days ; yet we need not sorrow as they who have no hope. 
The Lord has provided His people relief under those com 
plaints, and teaches us to draw improvment from them. 
If the evils we feel were not capable of being overruled for 
good, He would not permit them to remain in us. This 
we may infer from His hatred to sin, and the love which 
He bears to His people. 

As to the remedy, neither our state nor His honour are 
affected by the workings of indwelling sin, in the hearts of 
those whom He has taught to wrestle, strive, and mourn, 
on account of what they feel. Though sin wars, it shall not 
reign ; and though it breaks our peace, it cannot separate 
from His love. Nor is it inconsistent with His holiness and 
perfection to manifest His favour to such poor denied crea 
tures, or to admit them to communion with Himself ; for 
they are not considered as in themselves, but as one with 
Jesus, to whom they have fled for refuge, and by whom 
they live a life of faith. They are accepted in the Beloved, 
they have an Advocate with the Father, who once made 
an atonement for their sins, and ever lives to make inter 
cession for their persons. Though they cannot fulfil the law, 
He has fulfilled it for them ; though the obedience of the 
members is defiled and imperfect, the obedience of the head 
is spotless and complete ; and though there is much evil in 
them, there is something good, the fruit of His own gracious 


Spirit. They act from a principle of love, they aim at no less 
than His glory, and their habitual desires are supremely 
fixed upon Himself. There is a difference in kind between 
the feeblest efforts of faith in a real believer, while he is 
covered with shame at the thoughts of his miscarriages, and 
the highest and most specious attainments of those who are 
wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight. 
Nor shall this conflict remain long, or the enemy finally 
prevail over them. They are supported by Almighty 
Power, and led on to certain victory. They shall not 
always be as they are now ; yet a little while, and they shall 
be freed from this vile body, which, like the leprous house, 
is incurably contaminated, and must be entirely taken 
down. They shall see Jesus as He is, and be like Him, 
and with Him for ever. 

The gracious purposes to which the Lord makes the sense 
and feeling of our depravity subservient are manifold. 
Hereby His own power, wisdom, faithfulness, and love, are 
more signally displayed ; His power, in maintaining His 
own work in the midst of much opposition, like a spark 
burning in the water, or a bush unconsumed in the flames ; 
His wisdom, in defeating and controlling all the devices which 
Satan, from his knowledge of evil of our nature, is encouraged 
to practise against us. He has overthrown many a fair 
professor, and, like Goliath, he challenges the whole army of 
Israel ; yet he finds there are some against whom, though 
he thrusts sorely, he cannot prevail ; notwithstanding any 
seeming advantage he gains at some seasons, they are still 
delivered, for the Lord is on their side. The unchangeable- 
ness of the Lord s love and the riches of His mercy are like 
wise more illustrated by the multiplied pardons He bestows 
upon His people than if they needed no forgiveness at all. 

Hereby the Lord Jesus Christ is more endeared to the soul ; 
all boasting is effectually excluded, and the glory of a. full 
and free salvation is ascribed to Him alone. If a mariner 
is surprised by a storm, and after one night spent in jeopardy 
is presently brought safe into port ; though he may rejoice 
in his deliverance, it will not affect him so sensibly as if, 
after being tempest-tossed for a long season, and experienc 
ing a great number and variety of hair-breadth escapes, he 
at last gains the desired haven. The righteous are said to 


be scarcely saved, not with respect to the certainty of the 
event, for the purpose of God in their favour cannot be dis 
appointed, but in respect of their own apprehensions, and 
the great difficulties they are brought through. But when, 
after a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after 
repeated proofs of their weakness, wilfulness, ingratitude, 
and insensibility, they find that none of these things can 
separate them from the love of God in Christ, Jesus becomes 
more and more precious to their souls. They love much, 
because much has been forgiven them. They dare not, 
they will not ascribe any thing to themselves, but are glad to 
acknowledge, that they must have perished (if possible) 
a thousand times over, if Jesus had not been their Saviour, 
their Shepherd, and their Shield. When they were wander 
ing He brought them back, when fallen He raised them, 
when wounded He healed them, when fainting He revived 
them. By Him, out of weakness they have been made 
strong ; He has taught their hands to war, and covered 
their heads in the day of battle. In a word, some of the 
clearest proofs they have had of His excellence have been 
occasioned by the mortifying proofs they have had of their 
own vileness. They would not have known so much of Him, 
if they had not known so much of themselves. 

Farther, a spirit of humiliation, which is both the decus 
et tutamen, the strength and beauty of our profession, 
is greatly promoted by our feeling, as well as reading, 
that when we would do good, evil is present with us. A 
broken and contrite spirit is pleasing to the Lord He has pro 
mised to dwell with those who have it ; and experience 
shows, that the exercise of all our graces is in proportion 
to the humbling sense we have of the depravity of our na 
ture. But that we are so totally depraved is a truth which 
no one ever truly learned by being only told it. Indeed, if 
we could receive, and habitually maintain a right judgment 
of ourselves, by what is plainly declared in Scripture, it 
would probably save us many a mournful hour ; but ex 
perience is the Lord s school, and they who are taught by 
Him usually learn that they have no wisdom by the mistakes 
they make, and that they have no strength by the slips and 
falls they meet with. Every day draws forth some new 
corruption which before was little observed, or at least 


discovers it in a stronger light than before. Thus by 
degrees they are weaned from leaning to any supposed 
wisdom, power, or goodness in themselves ; they feel the 
truth of our Lord s words : " Without Me ye can do no 
thing ; " and the necessity of crying with David : " O lead 
me and guide me for Thy name s sake." It is chiefly by 
this frame of mind that one Christian is differenced from 
another ; for though it is an inward feeling, it has very 
observable outward effects, which are expressively inti 
mated, Ezek. xvi. 63 : " Thou shalt be dumb and not open 
thy mouth, in the day when I am pacified towards thee, 
saith the Lord God." The knowledge of My full and free 
forgiveness, of thy innumerable backslidings and transgres 
sions, shall make thee ashamed, and silence the unruly 
workings of thine heart. Thou shalt open thy mouth in 
praise ; but thou shalt no more boast in thyself, or censure 
others, or repine at My dispensations. In these respects 
we are exceedingly prone to speak unadvisedly with our 
lips. But a sense of great unworthiness and much forgive 
ness checks these evils. Whoever is truly humbled will not 
be easily angry, will not be positive and rash, will be com 
passionate and tender to the infirmities of his fellow-sinners, 
knowing, that if there be a difference, it is grace that has 
made it, and that he has the seeds of every evil in his own 
heart ; and under all trials and afflictions, he will look to 
the hand of the Lord, and lay his mouth in the dust, acknow 
ledging that he suffers much less than his iniquities have 
deserved. These are some of the advantages and good fruits 
which the Lord enables us to obtain from that bitter root, 
indwelling sin. 

I am, with great deference, &c. 


MY LORD, September 1772. 

WEAK, unskilful, and unfaithful as I am in practice, 
the Lord has been pleased to give me some idea of what a 
Christian ought to be, and of what is actually attainable 


in the present life, by those whom He enables earnestly 
to aspire towards the prize of their high calling. They 
who are versed in mechanics can, from a knowledge of the 
combined powers of a complicated machine, make an exact 
calculation of what it is able to perform, and what resistance 
it can counteract ; but who can compute the possible 
effects of that combination of principles and motives re 
vealed in the Gospel upon a heart duly impressed with a 
sense of their importance and glory ? When I was lately at 
Mr. Coxe s museum, while I was fixing my attention upon 
some curious movements, imagining that I saw the whole 
of the artist s design, the person who showed it touched a little 
spring, and suddenly a thousand new and unexpected motions 
took place, and the whole piece seemed animated from the 
top to the bottom. I should have formed but a very im 
perfect judgment of it, had I seen no more than what I saw 
at first. I thought I might in some measure illustrate the 
vast difference that is observable amongst professors, even 
amongst those who are, it is to be hoped, sincere. There 
are persons who appear to have a true knowledge (in part) 
of the nature of the Gospel religion, but seem not to be 
apprised of its properties, in their comprehension and extent. 
If they have attained to some hope of their acceptance, if 
they find at seasons some communion with God in the means 
of grace, if they are in a measure delivered from the pre 
vailing and corrupt customs of the world, they seem to be 
satisfied, as if they were possessed of all. These are indeed 
great things ; sed meliora latent. The profession of too 
many, whose sincerity charity would be unwilling to impeach, 
is greatly blemished, notwithstanding their hopes and their 
occasional comforts, by the breakings forth of unsanctified 
tempers, and the indulgence of vain hopes, anxious cares, 
and selfish pursuits. Far, very far, am I from that un- 
scriptural sentiment of sinless perfection in fallen man. 
To those who have a due sense of the spirituality and ground 
of the divine precepts, and of what passes in their own 
hearts, there will never be wanting causes of humiliation 
and self-abasement on the account of sin ; yet still there is 
a liberty and privilege attainable by the Gospel beyond what 
is ordinarily thought of. Permit me to mention two or 
three particulars in which those who have a holy 


ambition of aspiring to them shall not be altogether 

A delight in the Lord s all-sufficiency, to be satisfied in 
Him as our present and eternal portion. This, in the sense 
in which I understand it, is not the effect of a present warm 
frame, but of a deeply-rooted and abiding principle ; the 
habitual exercise of which is to be estimated by the com 
parative indifference with which other things are regarded. 
The soul thus principled is not at leisure to take or to seek 
satisfaction in any thing but what has a known subserviency 
to this leading taste. Either the Lord is present, and then 
He is to be rejoiced in ; or else He is absent, and then He 
is to be sought and waited for. They are to be pitied, who, 
if they are at some times happy in the Lord, can at other 
times be happy without Him, and rejoice in broken cisterns, 
when their spirits are at a distance from the fountain of 
living waters. I do not plead for an absolute indifference to 
temporal blessings ; He gives us all things richly to enjoy ; 
and a capacity of relishing them is His gift likewise ; but 
then the consideration of His love in bestowing should 
exceedingly enhance their value, and a regard to His will 
should regulate their use. Nor can they all supply the 
want of that which we can only receive immediately from 
Himself. This principle likewise moderates that inordinate 
fear and sorrow to which we are liable upon the prospect or 
the occurrence of great trials, for which there is a sure sup 
port and resource provided in the all-sufficiency of infinite 
goodness and grace. What a privilege is this, to possess 
God in all things while we have them, and all things in God 
when they are taken from us ! 

An acquiescence in the Lord s will, founded in a per 
suasion of His wisdom, holiness, sovereignty, and good 
ness : this is one of the greatest privileges and brightest 
ornaments of our profession. So far as we attain to this, 
we are secure from disappointment. Our own limited views 
and short-sighted purposes and desires may be, and will be 
often overruled ; but then our main and leading desire, 
that the will of the Lord may be done, must be accomplished. 
How highly does it become us, both as creatures and as 
sinners, to submit to the appointments of our Maker ! and 
how necessary is it to our peace ! This great attainment is 


too often unthought of, and overlooked ; we are prone to 
fix our attention upon the second causes and immediate 
instruments of events ; forgetting that whatever befals us 
is according to His purpose, and therefore must be right and 
seasonable in itself, and shall in the issue be productive of 
good. From hence arise impatience, resentment, and secret 
repinings, which are not only sinful, but tormenting : 
whereas, if all things are in His hand, if the very hairs of 
our head are numbered ; if every event, great and small, 
is under the direction of His providence and purpose ; and 
if He has a wise, holy, and gracious end in view, to which 
every thing that happens is subordinate and subservient ; 
then we have nothing to do but with patience and humility 
to follow as He leads and cheerfully to expect a happy issue. 
The path of present duty is marked out ; and the concerns 
of the next and every succeeding hour are in His hands. 
How happy are they who can resign all to Him, see His hand 
in every dispensation, and believe that He chooses better 
for them than they possibly could for themselves ! 

A single eye to His glory, as the ultimate scope of all our 
undertakings. The Lord can design nothing short of His 
own glory ; nor should we. The constraining love of 
Christ has a direct and marvellous tendency, in proportion 
to the measure of faith, to mortify the corrupt principle 
self, which for a season is the grand spring of our conduct, 
and by which we are too much biassed after we know the 
Lord. But as grace prevails, self is renounced. We feel 
that we are not our own, that we are bought with a price ; 
and that it is our duty, our honour, and our happiness, to be 
the servants of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To 
devote soul and body, every talent, power, and faculty, to 
the service of His cause and will ; to let our light shine (in 
our several situations) to the praise of His grace ; to place 
our highest joy in the contemplation of His adorable per 
fections ; to rejoice even in tribulations and distresses, in 
reproaches and infirmities, if thereby the power of Christ 
may rest upon us, and be magnified in us ; to be content, 
yea, glad to be nothing, that He may be all in all ; to obey 
Him in opposition to the threats or solicitations of men ; 
to trust Him, though all outward appearances seem against 
us ; to rejoice in Him, though we should (as will sooner or 
c c 


later be the case) have nothing else to rejoice in, to live 
above the world, and to have our conversation in Heaven, 
to be like the angels, finding our own pleasure in performing 
His : this, my Lord, is the prize, the mark of our high 
calling, to which we are encouraged with a holy ambition 
continually to aspire. It is true, we shall still fall short ; 
we shall find, that when we would do good, evil will be 
present with us ; but the attempt is glorious, and shall not 
be wholly in vain. He that gives us thus to will, will 
enable us to perform with growing success, and teach us to 
profit even by our mistakes and imperfections. 

blessed man ! that thus fears the Lord, that delights 
in His word, and derives his principles, motives, maxims, 
and consolations, from that unfailing source of light and 
strength. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers 
of water, whose leaf is always green, and fruit abundant. 
The wisdom that is above shall direct his plans, inspire his 
counsels ; and the power of God shall guard him on every 
side, and prepare his way through every difficulty ; he shall 
see mountains sink into plains, and streams spring up in the 
dry wilderness. The Lord s enemies will be his ; and they 
may be permitted to fight against him, but they shall not 
prevail, for the Lord is with him to deliver him. The con 
duct of such a one, though in a narrow and retired sphere of 
life, is of more real excellence and importance than the most 
splendid actions of kings and conquerors which fill the annals 
of history, Prov. xvi. 32. And if the God whom he serves 
is pleased to place him in a more public light, his labours and 
cares will be amply compensated by the superior opportunities 
afforded him of manifesting the power and reality of true 
religion, and promoting the good of mankind. 

1 hope I may say, that I desire to be thus entirely given up 
to the Lord ; I am sure I must say, that what I have written 
is far from being my actual experience. Alas ! I might be 
condemned out of my own mouth, were the Lord strict to 
mark what is amiss. But, O the comfort ! we are not under 
the law, but under grace. The Gospel is a dispensation of 
sinners, and we have an Advocate with the Father. There 
is the unshaken ground of hope : a reconciled Father, a 
prevailing Advocate, a powerful Shepherd, a compassionate 
Friend, a Saviour who is able and willing to save to the 


uttermost. He knows our frame ; He remembers that we 
are but dust ; and has opened for us a new and blood- 
besprinkled way of access to the Throne of Grace, that we 
may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of 
need. I am, &c. 


MY LORD, April 1773. 

FOR five or six weeks past, I have been a good deal in 
disposed. The ground of my complaint was a cold, attended 
with a slight fever, and for some time with a cough, which 
made me feel some inconvenience in preaching ; to this 
succeeded a deafness, so great as to cut me off from con 
versation : for I could not hear the sound of a voice, unless 
it was spoken loud in my ear. But the Lord has mercifully 
removed the fever and cough, opened my ears, and I am now 
nearly as well as usual. I had cause to be thankful, especially 
for two things, under this dispensation : First, that I was 
enabled, though sometimes with a little difficulty, to go on 
with my public work. It is a singular favour I have to 
acknowledge, that for the space of almost nine years since 
I have been in the ministry, our Sabbath and weekly 
opportunities have not been once suspended : whereas I 
have seen many of the Lord s servants laid by for a con 
siderable space within that time. My other great mercy 
was, that the Lord was pleased to preserve me in a peaceful 
resigned frame ; so that when I was deaf, and could not be 
certain that I should recover my hearing any more, I was 
in general as cheerful and easy as at other times. This 
was the effect of His goodness ; for though I know enough 
of His sovereignty, wisdom, and faithfulness, of His right to 
do what He pleases, and the certainty that He does all things 
well, to furnish me with arguments enough to prove that sub 
mission to His will is our absolute duty ; yet I am sensible, 
that when the trial actually comes, notwithstanding all 
the advice I may have offered to others, I should myself 
toss like a wild bull in a net ; rebel and repine ; forget that 



I am" a sinner, and that He is a sovereign : this I say would 
always and invariably be the case, unless He was graciously 
pleased to fulfil His words, that strength shall be according 
to the day. I hope my deafness has been instructive to me. 
The exercise of our senses is so easily and constantly per 
formed, that it seems a thing of course ; but I was then 
reminded how precarious the tenure is by which we hold 
those blessings which seem most our own, and which are 
most immediately necessary to the comfortable enjoyment of 
life. Outward senses, mental faculties, health of body, and 
peace of mind, are extremely valuable ; but the continuance 
of them for a single moment depends upon Him, who, if He 
opens, none can shut, and when He shuts, none can open. 
A minute is more than sufficient to deprive us of what we 
hold most dear, or to prevent us from deriving the least 
comfort from it, if it is not taken away. I am not 
presuming to give your Lordship information ; but only 
mentioning the thoughts that were much upon my mind while 
I was incapable of conversation. These are indeed plain 
and obvious truths, which I have long acknowledged as 
indisputable ; but I have reason to be thankful when the 
Lord impresses them with fresh power upon my heart, even 
though He sees fit to do it by the medium of afflictions. I 
have seen of late something of the weight and importance of 
that admonition, Jer. ix. 23, 24. A passage which, though 
addressed to the wise, the mighty, and the rich, is of universal 
application ; for self, unless corrected and mortified by 
grace, will find something whereof to glory, in the meanest 
characters and the lowest situation. And, indeed, when 
things come to be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, 
the lunatics in bedlam, some of whom glory in their straw or 
their chains, as marks of splendour, or ensigns of royalty, 
have as much reason on their side, as any persons upon earth 
who glory in themselves. This alone is the proper ground of 
glory and joy, if we know the Lord. Then all is safe at 
present, and all will be happy for ever. Then whatever 
changes may affect our temporal concernments, our best 
interests and hopes are secured beyond the reach of change : 
and whatever we may lose or suffer during this little span of 
time will be abundantly compensated in that glorious state 
of eternity which is just at hand. I am, &c. 



MY LORD, December 1772. 

I LATELY employed some of my leisure hours (which, 
when I am not indolent, are but few) in reading the Memoirs 
of the Duke of Sully, which occasionally came in my way. 
It afforded me matter for variety of reflections. I pity the 
Duke of Sully, whose attachment to the name of a Protestant 
seems to have been little more than a point of honour, 
who drew all his resources from himself, and whose chief 
aim seems to have been to approve himself faithful to an 
earthly master. He acted as well as could be expected 
from natural principles ; and the Lord, who employed him 
as an instrument of His providence, rewarded his fidelity 
with success, honour, and riches : a reward which, though in 
itself a poor one, is suited to the desires of men who place 
their happiness in worldly things, and is so far a compensa 
tion of their services. It is given to your Lordship to act 
from nobler principles, and with more enlarged views. 
You serve a Master, of whose favour, protection, and 
assistance you cannot be deprived, who will not overlook or 
misconstrue the smallest service you attempt for Him, 
who will listen to no insinuations against you, who is 
always near to comfort, direct, and strengthen you, and who 
is preparing for you such honours and blessings as He only 
can give, an inheritance (the reverse of all earthly 

good) u^>0aprov, KOI apiavrov KO.I a^apavrov.* Thus animated 

and thus supported, assisted likewise by the prayers of 
thousands, may we not warrantably hope that your Lordship 
will be an instrument of great good, and that both church 
and state will be benefited by your example, counsel, and 
care ? 

In another view, the Duke of Sully s History exhibits a 
comment upon the Psalmist s words, " Surely man in his 
best estate is altogether vanity." View him in one light, 
he seems to have possessed all that the most aspiring mind 
could aim at the favour and confidence of his prince, 
accumulated wealth, great honours, and such power by his 

* Incorruptible, undefiled, unfading. 


offices and influence with the king, that he could almost do 
what he pleased. Yet he had so much to suffer from the 
fatigues and difficulties of his station, and the cabals and 
malice of his enemies, that in the midst of all his grandeur, 
a dispassionate mind would rather pity than envy him. 
And how suddenly were his schemes broken by the death 
of the king ! Then he lost his friend, his protector, his 
influence. The remainder of his days were embittered by 
many inquietudes ; he lived indeed (if that could afford any 
consolation) in much state and pageantry afterwards ; 
but after having toiled through more than fourscore years, 
died at last almost of a broken heart from domestic uneasi 
ness. And is this all that the world can do for those who are 
accounted most successful ? Alas ! 

Too low they build, who build below the skies. 

And what a picture of the instability of human things 
have we in his master, Henry ! Admired, beloved, dreaded, 
full of vast designs, fondly supposing himself born to be the 
arbiter of Europe, in an awful moment, and in the midst of 
his friends, suddenly struck from the height of his grandeur, 
and snatched into the invisible, unchangeable world. In 
that moment all his thoughts perished. 

How unspeakably awful such a transition ! How re 
markable were his own forebodings of the approaching hour ! 
O Lord, how dost Thou pour contempt upon princes and 
teach us that the great and the mean are equally in Thy 
hands, and at Thy disposal, as clay in the hands of the 
potter ! Poor king ! while he expected obedience to his 
own commands, he lived in habitual defiance of the 
commands of God. Men may respect his memory, for his 
sincerity, benevolence, and other amiable qualities ; but 
besides that he was engrossed by a round of sensual 
pleasures, (when business of State did not interfere,) his life 
was stained with adultery. Happy if, in the hours he spent 
in retirement, when the pre-intimation of his death hung 
heavy upon his mind, the Lord humbled and softened his 
heart, and gave him repentance unto life ! I wish the 
history afforded a proof of this. However, in his death, 
we see an affecting proof, that no human dignity or power 
ran ward off the stroke of the Almightv, who, by such 


sudden and unexpected dispensations, often shows Himself 
terrible to the princes and great men of the earth. O ! that 
they could see His hand, and wisely consider His doing in 
them ! 

But happy is the man who fears the Lord, and delights 
in His commandments ; who sets God always before him, 
and acts under the constraining influence of redeeming love. 
He is the real friend and the best champion of his country, 
who makes not the vague notions of human wisdom and 
honour, but the precepts and examples of the blessed Jesus, 
the model and the motive of his conduct. He inculcates 
(as occasion offers) the great truths of religion in his con 
versation, and demonstrates them by his practice ; yet 
the best part of his life is known only to God and him 
self. His time is divided between serving his country in 
public, and wrestling for it in private. Nor shall his labours 
or his prayers be lost. Either he shall have the desire of 
his heart, and shall see the religion and the liberty he 
so highly values transmitted to posterity ; or, if he 
should live when wrath is decreed, and there is no remedy, 
the promise and the providence of God shall seal him as the 
peculiar charge of angels, in the midst of public calamity. 
And when all things are involved in confusion, when the 
hearts of the wicked shall shake like the leaves of the forest, 
he shall be kept in perfect peace, trusting in the Lord. 

I am, with the greatest deference, &c. 


MY LORD, March 1773. 

USUALLY for some days before I purpose writing to 
your Lordship, my thoughts are upon the stretch for a 
subject ; I do not mean all day long, but it is so more 
or less ; but I might as well spare my inquiries, I can 
come to no determination, and for the most part begin to 
write at an absolute uncertainty how I am to proceed. 
Since I cannot premeditate, my heart prays that it may 
be given me in the same hour what I shall offer. A simple 


dependence upon the teaching and influence of the good 
Spirit of God, so as not to supersede the use of appointed 
means, would, if it could be uniformly maintained, make 
every part of duty easy and successful. It would free us 
from- much solicitude, and prevent many mistakes. Me- 
thinks I have a subject in view already, a subject of great 
importance to myself, and which perhaps will not be dis 
pleasing to your Lordship : How to walk with God in the 
daily occurrences of life, so as to do every thing for His sake 
and by His strength. 

When we are justified by faith, and accepted in the 
Beloved, we become heirs of everlasting life : but we 
cannot know the full value of our privileges till we enter 
upon the state of glory. For this, most who are converted 
have to wait some time after they are partakers of grace. 
Though the Lord loves them, hates sin, and teaches them 
to hate it, He appoints them to remain a while in a sinful 
world, and to groan under the burden of a depraved nature. 
He could put them in immediate possession of the Heaven 
for which He hath given them a meetness, but He does not. 
He has a service for them here, an honour which is worthy 
all they can suffer, and for which eternity will not afford 
an opportunity, namely, to be instruments of promoting 
His designs, and manifesting His grace in the world. Strictly 
speaking, this is the whole of our business here, the only 
reason why life is prolonged, or for which it is truly desir 
able, that we may fill up our connexions and situations, 
improve our comforts and our crosses, in such a manner 
as that God may be glorified in us and by us. As He is a 
bountiful Master and a kind Father, He is pleased to afford 
a variety of temporal blessings, which sweeten our service, 
and, as coming from His] hand, are very valuable, but are 
by no means worth living for, considered in themselves, as 
they can neither satisfy our desires, nor preserve us from 
trouble, or support us under it. That light of God s coun 
tenance, which can pervade the walls and dissipate the 
gloom of a dungeon, is unspeakably preferable to all 
that can be enjoyed in a palace without it. The true end 
of life is, to live not to ourselves, but to Him who died for 
us ; and while we devote ourselves to His service upon 
earth, to rejoice in the prospect of being happy with Him for 


ever in Heaven. These things are generally known and 
acknowledged by professors ; but they are a favoured few 
who act consistently with their avowed principles; who 
honestly, diligently, and without reserve, endeavour to 
make the most of their talents and strength in promoting 
the Lord s service, and allow themselves in no views or 
designs but what are plainly subordinate and subservient 
to it. Yea, I believe the best of the Lord s servants see cause 
enough to confess, that they are not only unprofitable in 
comparison of what they wish to be, but in many instances 
unfaithful likewise. They find so many snares, hindrances, 
and temptations arising from without, and so much em 
barrassment from sin which dwells within, that they have 
more cause for humiliation than self-complacence, when 
they seem most earnest and most useful. However, we have 
no Scriptural evidence that we serve the Lord at all, any 
farther than we find an habitual desire and aim to serve 
Him wholly. He is gracious to our imperfections and 
weakness ; yet He requires all the heart, and will not be 
served by halves, nor accept what is performed by a divided 
spirit. I lately met with some profane scoffs of Voltaire 
upon the sentiment of doing all to the glory of God, (such as 
might be expected from such a man ;) however, this is the 
true alchymy which turns every thing to gold, and ennobles 
the common actions of life into acts of religion, i Cor. x. 31. 
Nor is there a grain of real goodness in the most specious 
actions which are performed without a reference to God s 
glory. This the world cannot understand ; but it will 
appear highly reasonable to those who take their ideas 
of God from the Scripture, and who have felt the necessity, 
and found the benefits of redemption. We are debtors many 
ways. The Lord has a right to us by creation, by redemption, 
by conquest, when He freed us from Satan s power, and took 
possession of our hearts by His grace, and, lastly, by our 
own voluntary surrender in the day when He enabled us to 
fix our choice on Himself as our Lord and our portion. 
Then we felt the force of our obligations, we saw the beauty 
and honour of His service, and that nothing was worthy to 
stand in the least degree of competition with it. This is 
always equally true, though our perceptions of it are not 
always equally strong. But where it has been once really 


known, it cannot be wholly forgotten, or cease to be the 
governing principle of life : and the Lord has promised to 
revive the impression in those who wait upon Him, and 
thereby to renew their strength. For in proportion as we 
feel by what ties we are His, we shall embrace His service as 
perfect freedom. 

Again, when the eye is thus single, the whole body will 
be full of light. The principle of acting simply for God 
will, in general, make the path of duty plain, solve a thousand 
otherwise dubious questions, lead to the most proper and 
obvious means, and preclude that painful anxiety about 
events, which upon no other plan can be avoided. The love 
of God is the best casuist ; especially as it leads us to a 
careful attendance to His precepts, a reliance on His pro 
mises, and submission to His will. Most of our perplexities 
arise from an undue, though perhaps an unperceived, attach 
ment to self. Either we have some scheme of our own too 
closely connected with our general view of serving the Lord, 
or lay some stress upon our own management, which, though 
we suspect it may possibly fail us, we cannot entirely help 
trusting to. In these respects the Lord permits His servants 
occasionally to feel their own weakness ; but if they are 
sincerely devoted to Him, He will teach them to profit by it, 
and bring them by degrees to a simplicity of dependence, 
as well as of intention. Then all things are easy. Acting 
from love, and walking by faith, they can neither be dis 
appointed nor discouraged. Duty is their part, care is 
His, and they are enabled to cast it upon Him. They know 
that, when their expedients seem to fail, He is still all- 
sufficient. They know that, being engaged in His cause, 
they cannot miscarry ; and that, though in some things they 
may seem to fall short of success, they are sure of meeting 
acceptance, and that He will estimate their services, not by 
their actual effects, but according to the gracious principle 
and desire He has put into their hearts, 2 Chron. vi. 7, 8. 
I am, with the greatest respect, &c. 



MY LORD, June 1773. 

MY old cast-off acquaintance, Horace, occasionally 
came in my way this morning I opened it upon lib. 3. 
od. 29. Did I not know the proposal to be utterly im 
practicable, how gladly should I imitate it, and send your 
Lordship, in honest prose, if not in elegant verse, an invita 
tion ! But I must content myself with the idea of the 
pleasure it would give me to sit with you half a day under 
my favourite great tree, and converse with you, not con 
cerning the comparatively petty affairs of human govern 
ments, but of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. 
How many delightful subjects would suggest themselves in 
a free and retired conversation ! The excellency of our 
King, the permanency and glory of His kingdom, the beauty 
of His administration, the privileges of His subjects, the 
review of what He has done for us, and the prospect of what 
He has prepared for us in future ; and if, while we were 
conversing, He should be pleased to join us, (as He did 
the disciples when walking to Emmaus,) how would our 
hearts burn within us ! Indeed, whether we are alone, or 
in company, the most interesting topics strike us but faintly, 
unless He is pleased to afford His gracious influence ; but 
when He is present, light, love, liberty, and joy, spring up 
in the hearts that know Him. This reminds me (as I have 
mentioned Horace) to restore some beautiful lines to their 
proper application. They are impious and idolatrous as he 
uses them, but have an expressive propriety in the mouth 
of a believer : 

Lucem redde tuae, dux bone, patrire 
Instar veris enim vultus ubi tuus 
Affulsit populo, gratior it dies 
Et soles melius nitent. 

But we cannot meet. All that is left for me is to use 
the liberty you allow me of offering a few hints upon these 
subjects by letter, not because you know them not, but 
because you love them. The hour is coming, when all 
impediments shall be removed. All distinctions shall 


cease that are founded upon sublunary things, and the earth 
and all its works shall be burnt up. Glorious day ! May 
our souls be filled with the thought, and learn to estimate 
all things around us now, by the view in which they will 
appear to us then. Then it will be of small moment who 
was the prince, and who was the beggar in this life ; but 
who in their several situations sought, and loved, and 
feared, and honoured the Lord. Alas ! how many of the 
kings of the earth, and the rich men, and the chief captains, 
and the mighty men, will then say (in vain) to the moun 
tains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us ! In this world 
they are, for the most part, too busy to regard the com 
mands of God, or too happy to seek His favour ; they have 
their good things here ; they please themselves for a while, 
and in a moment they go down to the grave : in that moment 
their thoughts perish, their schemes are left unfinished, they 
are torn from their possessions, and enter upon a new, 
an untried, an unchangeable, a never-ending state of exist 
ence. Alas, is this all the world can afford ! I congratulate 
you, my Lord, not because God has appointed you to appear 
in an elevated rank, (this, abstracted from the opportunity 
it affords you of greater usefulness, would perhaps be a 
more proper subject for condolence ; ) but that He has 
admitted you to those honours and privileges which come 
from Him only, and which so few in the superior ranks of 
life think worthy of their attention. I doubt not but you 
are often affected with a sense of this distinguishing mercy. 
But though we know that we are debtors, great debtors to 
the grace of God, which alone has made us to differ, we know 
it but imperfectly at present. It doth not yet appear what 
we shall be, nor can we form a just conception of the misery 
from which we are redeemed, much less of the price paid for 
our redemption. How little do we know of the Redeemer s 
dignity and of the unutterable distress He endured when 
His Soul was made an offering for sin, and it pleased the 
Father to bruise Him, that by His stripes we might be 
healed. These things will strike us quite in another manner 
when we view them in the light of eternity. Then, to return 
to the thought from which I have rambled, then and there 
I trust we shall meet to the highest advantage, and spend 
an everlasting day together in happiness and praise. With 


this thought I endeavour to comfort myself under the 
regret I sometimes feel that I can have so little intercourse 
with you in this life. 

May the cheering contemplation of the hope set before us, 
support and animate us to improve the interval, and fill us 
with a holy ambition of shining as lights in the world, to the 
praise and glory of His grace, who has called us out of 
darkness ! Encompassed as we are with snares, temptations, 
and infirmities, it is possible (by His promised assistance) 
to live in some good measure above the world while we are 
in it ; above the influence of its cares, its smiles, or its 
frowns. Our conversation, TroXirev/m, our citizenship, is in 
Heaven. We are not at home, but only resident here 
for a season, to fulfil an appointed service ; and the Lord, 
whom we serve, has encouraged us to hope, that He will 
guide us by His wisdom, strengthen us by His power, and 
comfort us with the light of His countenance, which is better 
than life. Every blessing we receive from Him is a token of 
His favour, and a pledge of that far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory which He has reserved for us. O ! 
to hear Him say at last, " Well done, good and faithful 
servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord ! " will be a 
rich amends for all that we can lose, suffer, or forbear, for 
His sake. 

I subscribe myself, with great sincerity, &c. 


MY LORD, February 1774. 

THE first line of Horace s epistle to Augustus, when 
rightly applied, suggests a grand and cheering idea. As 
addressed by the poet, nothing can be more blasphemous, 
idolatrous, and absurd ; but with what comfort and pro 
priety may a Christian look up to Him to whom all power 
is committed in Heaven and earth, and say, Cum tot 
sustineas et tanta negotia solus / . . . Surely a more 
weighty and comprehensive sentence never dropped from 
an uninspired pen. And how beautifully and expressively 


is it closed by the word solus ! The government is upon 
His shoulders : and though He is concealed by a veil of 
second causes from common eyes, so that they can perceive 
only the means, instruments, and contingencies, by which 
He works, and therefore think He does nothing ; yet, in 
reality, He does all, according to His own counsel and 
pleasure, in the armies of Heaven, and among the 
inhabitants of the earth. 

Who can enumerate the tot et tanta negotia, which are in 
cessantly before His eye, adjusted by His wisdom, dependent 
on His will, and regulated by His power in His kingdoms 
of providence and grace ? If we consider the heavens, 
the works of His fingers, the moon and the stars which He 
has ordained ; if we call in the assistance of astronomers 
and glasses to help us in forming a conception of the number, 
distances, magnitude, and motions of the heavenly bodies ; 
the more we search, the more we shall be confirmed, that 
these are but a portion of His ways. But He calls them all 
by their names, upholds them by His power, and without 
His continual energy they would rush into confusion, or 
sink into nothing. If we speak of intelligences, He is the 
life, the joy, the sun of all that are capable of happiness. 
Whatever may be signified by the thrones, principalities, 
and powers in the world of light, they are all dependent 
upon His power, and obedient to His command ; it is 
equally true of angels as of men, that without Him they can 
do nothing. The powers of darkness are likewise under 
His subjection and control. Though but little is said of 
them in Scripture, we read enough to assure us that their 
number must be immensely great, and that their strength, 
subtilty, and malice, are such as we may tremble to think 
of them as our enemies, and probably should, but for our 
strange insensibility to whatever does not fall under the 
cognizance of our outward senses. But He holds them all in 
a chain, so that they can do or attempt nothing but by His 
permission ; and whatever He permits them to do (though 
they mean nothing less) has its appointed subserviency in 
accomplishing His designs. 

But to come nearer home, and to speak of what seems more 
suited to our scanty apprehensions, still we may be lost 
in wonder. Before this blessed and only Potentate, all the 


nations of the earth are but as the dust upon the balance, 
and the small drop of a bucket, and might be thought (if 
compared with the immensity of His works) scarcely worthy 
of His notice : yet here He resides, pervades, provides, 
protects, and rules. In Him His creatures live, move, 
and have their being : from Him is their food and preserva 
tion. The eyes of all are upon Him ; what He gives they 
gather, and can gather no more ; and at His word they 
sink into the dust. There is not a worm that crawls upon 
the ground, nor a flower that grows in the pathless wilder 
ness, or a shell upon the sea shore, but bears the impress of 
His wisdom, power, and goodness. With respect to men, He 
reigns with uncontrolled dominion over every kingdom, 
family, and individual. Here we may be astonished at His 
wisdom, in employing free agents, the greater part of whom 
are His enemies, to accomplish His purposes. But however 
reluctant, they all serve Him. His patience likewise is 
wonderful. Multitudes, yea, nearly our whole species, 
spend the life and strength which He affords them, and 
abuse all the bounties He heaps upon them, in the ways of 
sin. His commands are disregarded, His name blasphemed, 
His mercy disdained, His power defied ; yet still He spares. 
It is an eminent part of His government to restrain the 
depravity of human nature, and in various ways to check its 
effects, which, if left to itself, without His providential 
control, would presently make earth the very image of hell. 
For the vilest of men are not suffered to perpetrate a 
thousandth part of the evil which their hearts would prompt 
them to. The earth, though lying in the wicked one, is 
filled with the goodness of the Lord. He preserveth man and 
beast, sustains the young lion in the forest, feeds the birds 
of the air, which have neither store-house nor barn, and 
adorns the insects and the flowers of the field with a beauty 
and elegance beyond all that can be found in the courts of 

Still more wonderful is His administration in His kingdom 
of grace. He is present with all His creatures, but in a 
peculiar manner with His own people. Each of these are 
monuments of a more illustrious display of power, than that 
which spread abroad the heavens like a curtain, and laid 
the foundations of the earth : for He finds them all in a state 


of rebellion and enmity, and makes them a willing people ; 
and from the moment He reveals His love to them, He 
espouses their cause, and takes all their concerns into His 
own hands. He is near and attentive to every one of them, 
as if there was only that one. This high and lofty One, 
who inhabits eternity, before whom the angels veil their 
faces, condescends to hold communion with those whom 
men despise. He sees not as man seeth rides on a cloud 
disdainful by a Sultan or a Czar, to manifest Himself to a 
humble soul in a mud-walled cottage. He comforts them 
when in trouble, strengthens them when weak, makes their 
beds in sickness, revives them when fainting, upholds them 
when falling, and so seasonably and effectually manages for 
them, that though they are persecuted and tempted, though 
their enemies are many and mighty, nothing that they feel 
or fear is able to separate them from His love. 

And all thus He does solus. All the abilities, powers, and 
instincts, that are found amongst creatures, are emanations 
from His fulness. All changes, successes, disappointments, 
all that is memorable in the annals of hi story, all the 
risings and falls of empires, all the turns in human life, take 
place according to His plan. In vain men contrive and 
combine to accomplish their own counsels, unless they are 
parts of His counsel likewise ; the efforts of their utmost 
strength and wisdom are crossed and reversed by the feeblest 
and most unthought-of circumstances. But when He 
has a work to accomplish, and His time is come, however 
inadequate and weak the means He employs may seem to a 
carnal eye, the success is infallibly secured : for all things 
serve Him, and are in His hands as clay in the hands of the 
potter. Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God 
Almighty ! just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of 
Saints ! 

This is the God whom we adore. This is He who invites 
us to lean upon His almighty arm, and promises to guide us 
with His unerring eye. He says to you, my Lord, and even 
to me, Fear not, I am with thee ; be not dismayed, I am Thy 
God ; I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee ; yea, 
I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness. 
Therefore, while in the path of duty, and following His call, 
we may cheerfully pass on, regardless of apparent difficulties ; 


for the Lord, whose we are, and who has taught us to make 
His glory our highest end, will go before us ; and at His word, 
crooked things become straight, light shines out of darkness, 
and mountains sink into plains. Faith may and must be 
exercised, experience must and will confirm what His word 
declares, that the heart is deceitful, and that man in his best 
estate is vanity. But His promises to them that fear Him 
shall be confirmed likewise, and they shall find Him, in all 
situations, a sun, a shield, and an exceeding great reward. 

I have lost another of my people, a mother in our Israel ; 
a person of much experience, eminent grace, wisdom, and 
usefulness. She walked with God forty years : she was one 
of the Lord s poor ; but her poverty was decent, sanctified, 
and honourable : she lived respected, and her death is 
considered as a public loss. It is a great loss to me ; I shall 
miss her advice and example, by which I have been often 
edified and animated. But Jesus still lives. Almost her 
last words were, The Lord is my portion, saith my soul. 

I am, &c. 


MY LORD, March 10, 1774. 

FOR about six weeks past I have had occasion to spend 
several hours of almost every day with the sick and the 
dying. These scenes are to a minister like walking the 
hospitals to a young surgeon. The various cases which 
occur, exemplify, illustrate, and explain, with a commanding 
energy, many truths which may be learned indeed at home 
but cannot be so well understood, or their force so sensibly 
felt, without the advantage of experience and observation. 
As physicians, besides that competent general knowledge of 
their profession, which should be common to them all, have 
usually their several favourite branches of study, some 
applying themselves more to botany, others to chemistry, 
others to anatomy ; so ministers, as their inclinations and 
gifts differ, are led more closely to consider some particular 
branch of the system of divine truth. Some are directed 

c D 


to state and defend the doctrines of the Gospel ; some have 
a talent for elucidating difficult texts of Scripture ; some 
have a turn for explaining the prophetical parts, and so of 
the rest. For myself if it be lawful to speak of myself, and 
so far as I can judge, anatomy is my favourite branch ; I 
mean the study of the human heart, with its workings and 
counter-workings, as it is differently affected in a state of 
nature or of grace, in the different seasons of prosperity, 
adversity, conviction, temptation, sickness, and the ap 
proach of death. The Lord, by sending me hither, provided 
me a good school for these purposes. I know not where I 
could have had a better, or affording a greater variety of 
characters, in proportion to the number of people ; and as 
they are mostly a poor people, and strangers to that address 
which is the result of education and converse with the world, 
there is a simplicity in what they say or do, which gives me 
a peculiar advantage in judging of their cases. 

But I was about to speak of death. Though the grand 
evidence of those truths upon which our hopes are built, 
arises from the authority of God speaking them in His word, 
and revealing them by His Spirit, to the awakened heart, 
(for till the heart is awakened, it is incapable of receiving 
this evidence ;) yet some of these truths are so mysterious, 
so utterly repugnant to the judgment of depraved nature, 
that through the remaining influence of unbelief and vain 
reasoning, the temptations of Satan, and the subtile argu 
ments with which some men, reputed wise, attack the 
foundations of our faith, the minds even of believers are 
sometimes capable of being shaken. I know no better 
corroborating evidence for the relief of the mind under such 
assaults than the testimony of dying persons, especially 
of such as have lived out of the noise of controversy, and 
who, perhaps, never heard a syllable of what has been 
started in these evil days against the Deity of Christ, His 
atonement, and other important articles. Permit me, my 
Lord, to relate, upon this occasion some things which 
exceedingly struck me in the conversation I had with a 
young woman whom I visited in her last illness, about 
two years ago. She was a sober, prudent person, of plain 
sense, could read her Bible, but had read little beside : her 
knowledge of the world was nearly confined to the parish ; 


for I suppose she was seldom, if ever, twelve miles from home 
in her life. She had known the Gospel about seven years 
before the Lord visited her with a lingering consumption, 
which at length removed her to a better world. A few days 
before her death, I had been praying by her bedside, and 
in my prayer I thanked the Lord, that He gave her now to 
see that she had not followed cunningly-devised fables. 
When I had finished, she repeated that word, " No (she 
said), not cunningly-devised fables ; these are realities 
indeed ; I feel their truth, I feel their comfort. O tell 
my friends, tell my acquaintance, tell inquiring souls, tell 
poor sinners, tell all the daughters of Jerusalem, (alluding 
to Solomon s Song, v. 16, from which she had just before 
desired me to preach at her funeral), what Jesus has done 
for my soul. Tell them, that now, in the time of need, I 
find Him my Beloved and my Friend, and as such I commend 
Him to them." She then fixed her eyes steadfastly upon me, 
and proceeded, as well as I can recollect, as follows : " Sir, 
you are highly favoured in being called to preach the Gospel. 
I have often heard you with pleasure ; but give me leave 
to tell you, that I now see all you have said, or can say, is 
comparatively but little. Nor till you come into my 
situation, and have death and eternity full in your view, 
will it be possible for you to conceive the vast weight and 
importance of the truths you declare. Oh ! Sir, it is a 
serious thing to die ; no words can express what is needful 
to support the soul in the solemnity of a dying hour." 

I believe it was the next day when I visited her again. 
After some discourse as usual, she said, with a remarkable 
vehemence of speech, " Are you sure I cannot be mistaken ? " 
I answered without hesitation, " Yes, I am sure ; I am not 
afraid to say, My soul for yours, that you are right." She 
paused a little, and then replied, " You say true ; I know I 
am right. I feel that my hope is fixed upon the Rock of 
Ages ; I know in whom I have believed. Yet, if you could 
see with my eyes, you would not wonder at my question. 
But the approach of death presents a prospect, which is till 
then hidden from us, and which cannot be described." She 
said much more to the same purpose ; and in all she spoke 
there was a dignity, weight, and evidence, which I suppose 
few professors of divinity, when lecturing from the chair, 

D 2 


have at any time equalled. We may well say with Elihu, 
who teacheth like Him ? Many instances of the like kind I 
have met with here. I have a poor girl near me who looks 
like an idiot, and her natural capacity is indeed very small ; 
but the Lord has been pleased to make her acquainted altern 
ately with great temptations, and proportionably great dis 
coveries of His love and truth. Sometimes, when her heart 
is enlarged, I listen to her with astonishment. I think no 
books or ministers I ever met with have given me such an 
impression and understanding of what the apostle styles 
TO. ftadrj TOV 9tov, as I have upon some occasions received 
from her conversation. 

But I am rambling again. My attendance upon the sick 
is not always equally comfortable ; but could I learn aright, 
it might be equally instructive. Some confirm the precious- 
ness of a Saviour to me, by the cheerfulness with which, 
through faith in His name, they meet the king of terrors. 
Others no less confirm it, by the terror and reluctance they 
discover when they find they must die ; for though there 
are too many who sadly slight the blessed Gospel while they 
are in health, yet in this place most are too far enlightened 
to be quite thoughtless about their souls, if they retain their 
senses, in their last illness. Then, like the foolish virgins, 
they say, Give us of your oil : then they are willing that 
ministers and professors should pray with them and speak to 
them. Through the Lord s goodness, several whom I have 
visited in these circumstances have afforded me good hope ; 
they have been savingly changed by His blessing upon what 
has passed at the eleventh hour. I have seen a marvellous 
and blessed change take place in their language, views, and 
tempers, in a few days. I now visit a young person, who is 
cut short in her nineteenth year by a consumption, and I 
think cannot live many days. I found her very ignorant 
and insensible, and she remained so a good while ; but of late 
I hope her heart is touched. She feels her lost state, she 
seems to have some right desires, she begins to pray, and in 
such a manner as I cannot but hope the Lord is teaching 
her, and will reveal Himself to her before she departs. But 
it is sometimes otherwise. I saw a young woman die last 
week ; I had been often with her ; but the night she was 
removed she could only say, O, I cannot live, I cannot live ! 


She repeated this mournful complaint as long as she could 
speak ; for as the vital powers were more oppressed, her voice 
was changed into groans ; her groans grew fainter and 
fainter, and in about a quarter of an hour after she had 
done speaking she expired. Poor thing ! I thought, as I 
stood by her bedside, if you were a duchess, in this situation, 
what could the world do for you now ! I thought likewise 
how many things are there that now give us pleasure or 
pain, and assume a mighty importance in our view, which, in 
a dying hour, will be no more to us than the clouds which 
fly unnoticed over our heads. Then the truth of our Lord s 
aphorism will be seen, felt, and acknowledged, " One thing is 
needful ".; and we shall be ready to apply Grotius dying 
confession to (alas !) a great part of our lives, Ah ! vitam 
perdidi, nihil agenda laboriose. 

Your Lordship allows me to send unpremeditated letters. 
I need not assure you this is one. 

I am, &c. 


MY LORD, March 24, 1774. 

WHAT a mercy is it to be separated in spirit, conversa 
tion, and interest, from the world that knows not God, where 
all are alike by nature ! Grace makes a happy and un 
speakable difference. Believers were once under the same 
influence of that spirit who still worketh in the children of 
disobedience, pursuing different paths, but all equally remote 
from truth and peace ; some hatching cockatrice eggs, others 
weaving spiders webs. These two general heads of mischief 
and vanity include all the schemes, aims, and achievements 
of which man is capable, till God is pleased to visit the heart 
with His grace. The busy part of mankind are employed in 
multiplying evils and miseries ; the more retired, speculative, 
and curious, are amusing themselves with what will here 
after appear as unsubstantial, unstable, and useless as a cob 
web. Death will soon sweep away all that the philosophers, 
the virtuosi, the mathematicians, the antiquarians, and 


other learned triflers, are now weaving with so much self- 
applauded address. Nor will the fine-spun dresses, in which 
the moralist and the self-righteous clothe themselves, be of 
more advantage to them, either for ornament or defence 
than the produce of a spider. But it is given to a few to 
know their present state and future destination. These 
build upon the immovable Rock of Ages for eternity : these 
are trees springing from a living root, and bear the fruits 
of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and 
praise of God : these only are awake, while the rest of the 
world are in a sleep, indulging in vain dreams from which 
likewise they will shortly awake ; but, O with what con 
sternation, when they shall find themselves irrecoverably 
divorced from all their delusive attachments, and compelled 
to appear before that God to whom they have lived strangers, 
and to whom they must give an account ! O for a thousand 
tongues to proclaim in the ears of thoughtless mortals that 
important aphorism of our Lord, " One thing is needful ! " 
Yet a thousand tongues would be, and are employed in 
vain, unless so far as the Lord is pleased to send the watch 
man s warning, by the power and agency of His own Spirit. 
I think the poet tells us, that Cassandra had the gift of truly 
foretelling future events ; but she was afterwards laid under 
a painful embarrassment, that nobody should believe her 
words. Such, with respect to the bulk of their auditories, 
is the lot of Gospel-ministers : they are enlightened to see, 
and sent forth to declare, the awful consequences of sin ; but, 
alas ! how few believe their report 1 To illustrate our grief 
and disappointment, I sometimes suppose there is dangerous 
water in the way of travellers, over which there is a bridge 
which those who can be prevailed upon may pass with safety. 
By the side of this bridge watchmen are placed, to warn 
passengers of the danger of the waters ; to assure them, 
that all who attempt to go through them inevitably perish ; 
to invite, entreat, and beseech them, if they value their 
lives, to cross the bridge. Methinks this should be an easy 
task : yet if we should see in fact the greater part stopping 
their ears to the friendly importunity ; many so much 
offended by it as to account the watchman s care impertinent, 
and only deserving of scorn and ill-treatment ; hardly one 
in fifty betaking themselves to the friendlv bridge, the rest 


eagerly plunging into the waters, from which none return, as 
if they were determined to try who should be drowned first : 
this spectacle would be no unfit emblem of the reception 
the Gospel meets with from a blinded world. The ministers 
are rejected, opposed, vilified ; they are accounted troublers 
of the world, because they dare not, cannot stand silent, 
while sinners are perishing before their eyes ; and if, in the 
course of many sermons, they can prevail but on one soul to 
take timely warning, and to seek to Jesus, who is the way, 
the truth, and the life, they may account it a mercy and an 
honour, sufficient to overbalance all the labour and 
reproaches they are called to endure. From the most they 
must expect no better reception than the Jews gave to 
Jeremiah, who told the prophet to his face, As to the word 
thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not 
hearken to thee at all, but we will certainly do whatsoever 
thing goeth forth out of our own mouth. Surely, if the Lord 
has given us any sense of the worth of our souls, any com 
passion towards them, this must be a painful exercise ; 
and experience must teach us something of the meaning 
of Jeremiah s pathetic exclamation, " O that my head were 
waters, and mine eyes fountains of tears, that I might weep 
day and night for the slain of the daughters of my people ! " 
It is our duty to be thus affected. Our relief lies in the 
wisdom and sovereignty of God. He reveals His salvation to 
whom He pleases, for the most part to babes ; from the 
bulk of the wise and the prudent it is hidden. Thus it has 
pleased Him, and therefore it must be right. Yea, He will 
one day condescend to justify the propriety and equity of 
His proceedings to His creatures : then every mouth will 
be stopped, and none will be able to reply against their 
Judge. Light is come into the world, but men prefer dark 
ness. They hate the light, resist it, and rebel against it. 
It is true all do so ; and therefore, if all were to perish under 
the condemnation, their ruin would be their own act. It is 
of grace that any are saved, and in the distribution of that 
grace, He does what He will with His own : a right which 
most are ready enough to claim in their own concerns, 
though they are so unwilling to allow it to the Lord of all. 
Many perplexing and acrimonious disputes have been 
started upon this subject ; but the redeemed of the Lord 


are called, not to dispute, but to admire and rejoice ; to 
love, adore, and obey. To know that He loved us, and gave 
Himself for us, is the constraining argument and motive to 
love Him, and surrender ourselves to Him ; to consider 
ourselves as no longer our own, but to devote ourselves with 
every faculty, power, and talent to His service and glory. 
He deserves our all, for He parted with all for us. He 
made Himself poor, He endured shame, torture, death, 
and the curse for us, that we through Him might inherit 
everlasting life. Ah ! the hardness of my heart, that I am 
no more affected, astonished, overpowered with this thought. 

I am, &c. 


MY LORD, April 20, 1774. 

I HAVE been pondering a good while for a subject, 
and at last begin without one, hoping that (as it has often 
happened) while I am writing one line, something will 
occur to fill up another. Indeed I have an inexhaustible 
fund at hand ; but it is to me often like a prize in the hand 
of a fool, I want skill to improve it. O for a warm, a suitable, 
a seasonable train of thought that might enliven my own 
heart, and not be unworthy your Lordship s perusal ! 
Methinks the poets can have but cold comfort, when they 
invocate a fabled Muse ; but we have a warrant, a right, 
to look up for the influence of the Holy Spirit, who ordains 
strength for us, and has promised to work in us. What a 
comfort, what an honour is this, that worms have liberty to 
look up to God ! and that He, the high and holy One who 
inhabiteth eternity, is pleased to look down upon us, to 
maintain our peace, to supply our wants, to guide us with 
His eye, and to inspire us with wisdom and grace suitable to 
our occasions ! They who profess to know something of 
this intercourse, and to depend upon it, are by the world 
accounted enthusiasts, who know not what they mean, or 
perhaps hypocrites, who pretend to what they have not, in 
order to cover some base designs. But we have reason 


to bear their reproaches with patience. Could the miser 


Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo 

Ipse domi, simul ac nummos contemplor in area : 

Well then may the believer say, Let them laugh, let them 
rage, let them, if they please, point at me for a fool as I 
walk the streets ; if I do but take up the Bible, or run over 
in my mind the inventory of the blessings with which the 
Lord has enriched me, I have sufficient amends. Jesus is 
mine ; in Him I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification 
and redemption, an interest in all the promises and in all 
the perfections of God ; He will guide me by His counsel, 
support me by His power, comfort me with His presence 
while I am here, and afterwards, when flesh and heart fail, 
He will receive me to His glory. 

Let them say what they will, they shall not dispute or 
laugh us out of our spiritual senses. If all the blind men in 
the kingdom should endeavour to bear me down, that the 
sun is not bright, or that the rainbow has no colours, I would 
still believe my own eyes. I have seen them both ; they 
have not. I cannot prove to their satisfaction what I 
assert, because they are destitute of sight, the necessary 
medium ; yet their exceptions produce no uncertainty in 
my mind : they would not, they could not hesitate a moment 
if they were not blind. Just so, they who have been taught 
of God, who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, have an 
experimental perception of the truth, which renders them 
proof against all the sophistry of infidels. I am persuaded 
we have many plain people here, who, if a wise man of the 
world was to suggest that the Bible is a human invention, 
would be quite at a loss how to answer him by arguments 
drawn from external evidences ; yet they have found such 
effects from this blessed book, that they would be no more 
moved by the insinuation, than if they were told, that 
a cunning man, or set of men, invented the sun, and placed 
it in the firmament. So, if a wise Socinian was to tell 
them, that the Saviour was only a man, like themselves, 
they would conceive just such an opinion of his skill in 
divinity, as a philosopher would do of a clown s skill in 
astronomy, who should affirm that the sun was no bigger 
than a cart-wheel. 


It remains therefore a truth, in defiance of all the cavils 
of the ignorant, that the Holy Spirit does influence the hearts 
of all the children of God, or, in other words, they are in 
spired, not with new revelations, but with grace and wisdom 
to understand, apply, and feed upon the great things already 
revealed in the Scriptures, without which the Scriptures are 
as useless as spectacles to the blind. Were it not so, when we 
become acquainted with the poverty, ignorance, and wicked 
ness of our hearts, we must sit down in utter despair of being 
ever able to think a good thought, to offer a single petition 
aright in prayer, or to take one safe step in the path of life. 
But now we may be content with our proper weakness, 
since the power and Spirit of Christ are engaged to rest upon 
us ; and wliile we are preserved in a simple dependence 
upon this help, though unable of ourselves to do any 
thing, we shall find an ability to do every thing that our 
circumstances and duty call for. What is weaker than a 
worm ? Yet the Lord s worms shall in His strength thresh 
the mountains, and make the hills as chaff. But this life 
of faith, tliis living and acting by a power above our own, 
is an inexplicable mystery, till experience makes it plain. 
I have often wondered that St. Paul has obtained so much 
quarter at the hands of some people, as to pass with them for 
a man of sense ; for surely the greatest part of his writings 
must be to the last degree absurd and unintelligible upon 
their principles. How many contradictions must they find, 
for instance, if they give any attention to what they read in 
that one passage, Gal. ii. 20 : " I am crucified with Christ : 
Nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me : and 
the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the 
Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." 

And as believers are thus inspired by the Holy Spirit, 
who furnishes them with desires, motives, and abilities, to 
perform what is agreeable to His will ; so I apprehend, that 
they who live without God in the world, whom the apostle 
styles sensual, not having the Spirit, are in a greater or less 
degree ad captum recipientis, under what I may calFa black 
inspiration. After making the^best allowances I can, both 
for the extent of human genius and the deplorable evil of 
the human heart, I cannot suppose that one-half of the 
wicked wit, of which some persons are so proud, is properly 


their own. Perhaps such a one as Voltaire would neither 
have written, nor have been read or admired so much, if he 
had not been the amanuensis of an abler hand in his own way. 
Satan is always near when the heart is disposed to receive 
him ; and the Lord withdraws His restraints to heighten the 
sinner s ability of sinning with an eclat, and assisting him with 
such strokes of blasphemy, malice, and falsehood, as perhaps 
he could not otherwise have attained. Therefore I do not 
wonder that they are clever and smart, that they raise a 
laugh, and are received with applause among those who are 
like-minded with themselves. But unless the Lord is 
pleased to grant them repentance, (though it is rather to be 
feared some of them are given up to judicial hardness of 
heart) how much better would it have been for them had 
they been born idiots or lunatics, than to be distinguished 
as the willing, industrious, and successful instruments of 
the powers of darkness, in beguiling, perverting, and ruining 
the souls of men ! Alas ! what are parts and talents, or 
any distinctions which give pre-eminence in life, unless they 
are sanctified by the grace of God, and directed to the 
accomplishment of His will and glory ! From the expression, 
Bind them in bundles and burn them, I have been led to 
think, that the deceivers and the deceived, they who have 
prostituted their gifts or influence to encourage others in 
sin, and they who have perished by their means, may in 
another world have some peculiar and inseparable con 
nexion, and spend an eternity in fruitless lamentations, that 
ever they were connected here. 

Your Lordship, I doubt not, feels the force of that line, 

O to grace how great a debtor ! 

Had not the Lord separated you for Himself, your rank, 
your abilities, your influence, which now you chiefly 
value as enlarging your opportunities of usefulness, might, 
nay, certainly would, have been diverted into the opposite 
channel. I am, &c. 



MY LORD, Nov. 5, 1774. 

I HAVE not till very lately had recourse to the expe 
dient of descanting upon a text ; but I believe it the best 
method I can take to avoid ringing changes upon a few 
obvious topics, which I suppose uniformly present them 
selves to my mind when I am about to write to your 
Lordship. Just now, that sweet expression of David 
occurred to my thoughts, The Lord is my Shepherd / . . . 
Permit me, without plan or premeditation, to make a few 
observations upon it ; and may your Lordship feel the peace, 
the confidence, the blessedness, which a believing applica 
tion of the words is suited to inspire. 

The Socinians and others, in their unhappy laboured 
attempts to darken the principal glory and foundation- 
comfort of the Gospel, employ their critical sophistry against 
those texts which expressly and doctrinally declare the 
Redeemer s character ; and affect to triumph, if in any 
manuscript or ancient version they can find a variation from 
the received copies which seems to favour their cause. 
But we may venture to wave the authority of every disputed 
or disputable text, and maintain the truth against their 
cavils, from the current language and tenor of the whole 
Scripture. David s words in Psa. xxiii. are alone a decisive 
proof that Jesus is Jehovah, if they will but allow two things, 
which I think they cannot deny : I. That our Saviour 
assumes to Himself the character of the Shepherd of His 
people ; and, 2. That He did not come into the world to 
abridge those advantages which the servants of God en 
joyed before His incarnation. Upon these premises, which 
cannot be gainsayed without setting aside the whole New 
Testament, the conclusion is undeniable ; for if Jehovah 
was David s Shepherd, unless Jesus be Jehovah, we who live 
under the Gospel have an unspeakable disadvantage in being 
intrusted to the care of one who, according to the Socinians, 
is a mere man ; and upon the Arian scheme, is at the most 
a creature, and infinitely short of possessing those 
perfections which David contemplated in his Shepherd. He 
had a Shepherd whose wisdom and power were infinite, and 


might therefore warrantably conclude he should not want, 
and need not fear. And we also may conclude the same, 
if our Shepherd be the Lord or Jehovah, but not otherwise. 
Besides, the very nature of the Shepherd s office respecting 
the state of such frail creatures as we are, requires those 
attributes for the due discharge of it which are incommunic- 
ably divine. He must intimately know every individual 
of the flock. His eye must be upon them every one, and His 
ear open to their prayers, and His arm stretched out for their 
relief, in all places, and in all ages. Every thought of 
every heart must be open to His view, and His wisdom 
must penetrate, and His arm control and overrule all the 
hidden and complicated machinations of the powers of dark 
ness. He must have the administration of universal Provi 
dence over all the nations, families, and persons upon earth, 
or He could not effectually manage for those who put their 
trust in Him, in that immense variety of cases and circum 
stances in which they are found. Reason, as well as Scrip 
ture, may convince us, that He who gathereth the outcasts 
of Israel, who healeth the broken in heart, who upholdeth 
all that fall, raiseth up all that are bowed down, and upon 
whom the eyes of all wait for their support, can be no other 
than He who telleth the number of the stars, and calleth 
them all by their names, who is great in power, and whose 
understanding is infinite. To this purpose likewise the 
prophet Isaiah describes this mighty Shepherd, chap. xl. 
9-17, both as to His person and office. 

But is not this indeed the great mystery of godliness ? 
How just is the apostle s observation, that no man can say 
Jesus Christ is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost ! How astonish 
ing the thought, that the Maker of Heaven and earth, 
the Holy One of Israel, before whose presence the earth 
shook, the Heavens dropped, when He displayed a fa.nt 
emblem of His majesty upon Sinai, should afterwards appear 
in the form of a servant, and hang upon a cross, the sport 
and scorn of wicked men ! I cannot wonder that to the wise 
men of the world this appears absurd, unreasonable, and 
impossible ; yet to right reason, to reason enlightened and 
sanctified, however amazing the proposition be, yet it 
appears true and necessary, upon a supposition, that a 
holy God is pleased to pardon sinners in a way suited to 


display the awful glories of His justice. The same argu 
ments which prove the blood of bulls and goats insufficient to 
take away sin, will conclude against the utmost doings or 
sufferings of men or angels. The Redeemer of sinners must 
be mighty ; He must have a personal dignity to stamp such 
a value upon His undertakings, as that thereby God may 
appear just, as well as merciful, in justifying the ungodly for 
His sake ; and He must be all-sufficient to bless and almighty 
to protect those who come unto Him for safety and life. 

Such a one is our Shepherd. This is He of whom we, 
through grace, are enabled to say, we are His people, and 
the sheep of His pasture. We are His by every tie and 
right ; He made us, He redeemed us, He reclaimed us from 
the hand of our enemies, and we are His by our own volun 
tary surrender of ourselves ; for though we once slighted, 
despised, and opposed Him, He made us willing in the day 
of His power : He knocked at the door of our hearts ; but 
we (at least I) barred and fastened it against Him as much 
and as long as possible. But when He revealed His love, 
we could stand out no longer. Like sheep, we are weak, 
destitute, defenceless, prone to wander, unable to return, 
and always surrounded with wolves. But all is made up 
in the fulness, ability, wisdom, compassion, care, and faith 
fulness of our great Shepherd. He guides, protects, feeds, 
heals, and restores, and will be our Guide and our God 
even until death. Then He will meet us, receive us, and 
present us unto Himself, and we shall be near Him, and like 
Him, and with Him for ever. 

Ah, my Lord, what a subject is this ! I trust it is the 
joy of your heart. Placed as you are by His hand in a 
superior rank, you see and feel that the highest honours, and 
the most important concernments that terminate with the 
present life, are trivial as the sports of children, in com 
parison with the views and the privileges you derive from 
the glorious Gospel ; and your situation in life renders the 
grace bestowed upon you the more conspicuous and dis 
tinguishing. I have somewhere met with a similar reflection 
of Henry the Fourth of France, to this purpose, that though 
many came into the world the same day with him, he was 
probably the only one among them that was born to be a 
king. Your Lordship is acquainted with many, who, if not 


born on the same day with you, were born to titles, estates, 
and honours ; but how few of them were born to the honour 
of making a public and consistent profession of the glorious 
Gospel ! The hour is coming, when all honours and posses 
sions, but this which cometh of God only, will be eclipsed 
and vanish ; and, like the baseless fabric of a vision, leave 
not a wreck behind. How miserable will they then be 
who must leave their all ! What a mortifying thought does 
Horace put in the way of those who disdain to read the 

Linquenda tellus, et domus, et placens 

Uxor : neque harum, quas colis, arborum 

Te, prater invisas cupressos, 

Ulla brevem dominum sequetur. 

But grace and faith can make the lowest state of life 
supportable, and make a dismission from the highest 
desirable. Of the former, I have many living proofs and 
witnesses around me. Your Lordship, I trust, will have 
s\veet experience of the latter, when, after having fulfilled 
the will of God in your generation, you shall be called (I hope 
in some yet distant day) to enter into your Master s joy. In 
the meantime, how valuable are life, talents, influence, and 
opportunities of every kind, if we are enabled to improve and 
lay out all for Him who has thus loved us, thus provided 
for us ! As to myself, I would hope there are few who have 
so clear a sense of their obligations to Him, who make such 
unsuitable and languid returns as I do. I think I have a 
desire to serve Him better : but, alas ! evil is present with 
me. Surely I shall feel something like shame and regret for 
my coldness, even in Heaven ; for I find I am never happier 
than when I am most ashamed of myself upon this account 
here. I am, &c. 


MY LORD, December 8, 1774. 

How wonderful is the patience of God towards sinful 
men ! In Him they live, and move, and have their being ; 


and if He were to withdraw His support for a single 
moment they must perish. He maintains their hVes, guards 
their persons, supplies their wants, while they employ the 
powers and faculties they receive from Him in a settled 
course of opposition to His will. They trample upon His 
laws, affront His government, and despise His grace ; yet 
still He spares. To silence all His adversaries in a moment, 
would require no extraordinary exertion of His power ; 
but His forbearance towards them manifests His glory, and 
gives us cause to say, who is a God like unto thee ? 

Sometimes, however, there are striking instances of His 
displeasure against sin. When such events take place, 
immediately upon a public and premeditated contempt 
offered to Him that sitteth in the Heavens, I own they re 
mind me of the danger of standing, if I may so speak, in the 
Lord s way : for though His long-suffering is astonishing, 
and many dare Him to His face daily with seeming impunity, 
yet He sometimes strikes an awful and unexpected blow, 
and gives an illustration of that solemn word, " Whoever 
hardened himself against the Lord and prospered ? " But 
who am I to make this observation ? I ought to do it with 
the deepest humiliation, remembering that I once stood 
(according to my years and ability) in the foremost rank of 
His avowed opposers ; and with a determined and unwearied 
enmity, renounced, defied, and blasphemed Him. " But 
He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy ; " and 
therefore I was spared, and reserved to speak of His goodness. 

Josephus, when speaking of the death of Herod Agrippa, 
ascribes it to a natural cause, and says, he was seized with 
excruciating pains in his bowels. But Luke informs us of 
the true cause : an angel of the Lord smote him. Had 
we a modern liistory, written by an inspired pen, we should 
probably often be reminded of such an interposition where 
we are not ordinarily aware of it. For though the springs 
of actions and events are concealed from us for the most part, 
and vain men carry on their schemes with confidence, as 
though the Lord had forsaken the earth ; yet they are under 
His eye and control ; and faith, in some measure, instructed 
by the specimens of His government recorded in the Scrip 
tures, can trace and admire His hand, and can see how He 
takes the wise in their own craftiness, stains the pride of 


human glory ; and that, when sinners speak proudly, He 
is above them, and makes everything bend or break before 

While we lament the growth and pernicious effects of 
infidelity, and see how wicked men and seducers wax worse 
and worse, deceiving, and being deceived ; what gratitude 
should fill our hearts to Him who has been pleased to call 
us out of the horrid darkness in which multitudes are 
bewildered and lost, into the glorious light of His Gospel ! 
Faint are our warmest conceptions of this mercy. In order 
to understand it fully, we should have a full and adequate 
sense of the evil from which we are delivered ; the glory to 
which we are called ; and especially of the astonishing 
means to which we owe our life and hope, the humiliation, 
sufferings, and death of the Son of God. But our views of 
these points, while in our present state, are, and must be, 
exceedingly weak and disproportionate. We know them 
but in part, we see them ?i* tooTrrpov, by reflection, rather 
the images than the things themselves ; and though they 
are faithfully represented in the mirror of God s word, to us 
they appear indistinct, because we see them through a gross 
medium of ignorance and unbelief. Hereafter every veil 
shall be removed ; we shall know, in another manner than 
we do now, the unspeakable evil of sin, and the unsupportable 
dreadfulness of God s displeasure against it, when we see the 
world in flames, and hear the final sentence denounced upon 
the ungodly. We shall have far other thoughts of Jesus 
when we see Him as He is ; and shall then be able to make 
a more affecting estimate of the love which moved Him to 
be made a substitute and a curse for us ; and we shall then 
know what great things God has prepared for them that love 
Him. Then with transport we shall adopt the Queen of 
Sheba s language, It was a true report we heard in yonder 
dark world ; but behold, the half, the thousandth part, was 
not told us ! In the mean time, may such conceptions as 
we are enabled to form of these great truths fill our hearts, 
and be mingled with all our thoughts, and all our concerns ; 
may the Lord, by faith, give us an abiding evidence of the 
reality and importance of the things which cannot yet be 
seen : so shall we be enabled to live above the world while 
we are in it, uninfluenced either by its blandishments or its 
c E 


frowns ; and, with a noble simplicity and singularity, avow 
and maintain the cause of God in truth, in the midst of a 
crooked and perverse generation. He whom we serve is 
able to support and protect us ; and He well deserves at 
our hands that we should be willing to endure, for His 
sake, much more than He will ever permit us to be exercised 
with. The believer s call, duty, and privilege, is beautifully 
and forcibly set forth in Milton s character of Abdiel, at 
the end of the fifth book : 

.... Faithful found 

Among the faithless, faithful only he 

Among innumerable false, unmov d, 

Unshaken, unseduc d, unterrify d, 

His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal ; 

Nor number, nor example, with him wrought 

To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind 

Though single .... 

Methinks your Lordship s situation particularly re 
sembles that in which the poet has placed Abdiel. You 
are not indeed called to serve God quite alone ; but amongst 
those of your own rank, and with whom the station in which 
He has placed you necessitates you to converse, how few 
are there who can understand, second, or approve, the 
principles upon which you act, or easily bear a conduct 
which must impress conviction or reflect dishonour upon 
themselves ! But you are not alone ; the Lord s people 
(many of whom you will not know till you meet them in 
glory) are helping you here with their prayers ; His angels 
are commissioned to guard and guide your steps ; yea, the 
Lord Himself fixes His eye of mercy upon your private 
and your public path, and is near you at your right hand, 
that you may not be moved ! That He may comfort you 
with the light of His countenance, and uphold you with the 
arm of His power, is my frequent prayer. 

I am, &c. 



MY LORD, January 20, 1775. 

WE have entered upon another year ! So have thou 
sands, perhaps millions, who will not see it close ! An 
alarming thought to the worldling ! at least it should be so. 
I have an imperfect remembrance of an account I read, when 
I was a boy, of an ice-palace, built one winter at Peters- 
burgh. The walls, the roofs, the floors, the furniture, were 
all of ice, but finished with taste ; and every thing that 
might be expected in a royal palace was to be found there ; 
the ice, while in the state of water, being previously coloured, 
so that to the eye all seemed formed of proper materials : 
but all was cold, useless, and transient. Had the frost 
continued till now, the palace might have been standing ; 
but with the returning spring it melted away like the baseless 
fabric of a vision. Methinks there should have been one 
stone in the building, to have retained the inscription, 
Sic transit gloria mundi ! for no contrivance could exhibit 
a fitter illustration of the vanity of human life. Men build 
and plan as if their work were to endure for ever ! but the 
wind passes over them, and they are gone. In the midst of 
all their preparations, or, at farthest, when they think they 
have just completed their designs, their breath goeth forth, 
they return to their earth ; in that very day their thoughts 

How many sleep who kept the world awake ! 

Yet this ice-house had something of a leisurely dissolution, 
though, when it began to decay, all the art of man was 
unable to prop it ; but often death comes hastily, and, 
like the springing of a mine, destroys to the very foundations 
without previous notice. Then all we have been concerned 
in here (all but the consequences of our conduct, which will 
abide to eternity) will be no more to us than the remembrance 
of a dream. This truth is too plain to be denied ; but the 
greater part of mankind act as if they were convinced it was 
false : they spend their days in vanity, and in a moment 
they go down to the grave. What cause of thankfulness have 
they who are delivered from this delusion, and who, by the 

E 2 


knowledge of the glorious Gospel, have learned their true 
state and end, are saved from the love of the present world, 
from the heart-distressing fear of death ; and know, that 
if their earthly house were dissolved, like the ice-palace, 
they have a house not made with hands, eternal in the 
heavens ! 

Yet even these are much concerned to realize the brevity 
and uncertainty of their present state, that they may be 
stimulated to make the most and the best of it ; to redeem 
their time, and manage their precarious opportunities, so 
as may most tend to the praise and glory of Him who has 
called them out of darkness into marvellous light. Why 
should any that have tasted that the Lord is gracious, wish 
to live another day, but that they may have the honour to 
be fellow-workers with Him, instrumental in promoting 
His designs, and of laying themselves out to the utmost 
of their abilities and influence in His service ! To enjoy 
a sense of His loving-kindness, and to have the light of His 
countenance lifted up upon our souls, is indeed, respecting 
ourselves, the best part of life, yea, better than life itself ; 
but this we shall have to unspeakably greater advantage, 
when we have finished our course, and shall be wholly freed 
from the body of sin. And therefore the great desirable 
while here seems to be grace, that we may serve Him and 
suffer for Him in the world. Though our first wish immedi 
ately upon our own accounts might be, to depart and be 
with Jesus, which is iro\\u paXXov Kptmoov, yet a lively 
thought of our immense obligations to His redeeming love, 
may reconcile us to a much longer continuance here, if we 
may by any means be subservient to diffuse the glory of His 
name, and the blessings of His salvation, which is God s 
great and principal end in preserving the world itself. 
When historians and politicians descant upon the rise and 
fall of empires, with all their professed sagacity in tracing 
the connexion between causes and effects, they are totally 
unacquainted with the great master-wheel which manages 
the whole movement that is, the Lord s design in favour 
of His Church and kingdom. To this every event is sub 
ordinate ; to this every interfering interest must stoop. 
How easily might this position be proved, by reviewing the 
history of the period about the Reformation. Whether 


Dr. Robertson considers things in this light, in his history of 
Charles V., I know not, as I have not seen his books ; but if 
not, however elaborate his performance may be in other 
respects, I must venture to say, it is essentially defective, 
and cannot give that light and pleasure to a spiritual reader 
of which the subject is capable. And I doubt not but some 
who are yet unborn, will hereafter clearly see and remark 
that the present unhappy disputes between Great Britain 
and America, with their consequences, whatever they may 
be, are part of a series of events, of which the extension and 
interests of the Church of Christ were the principal final 
causes. In a word, that Jesus may be known, trusted, 
and adored, and sinners, by the power of His Gospel, be 
rescued from sin and Satan, is comparatively the To iv 
the one great business for the sake of which the succession 
of day and night, summer and winter, is still maintained ; 
and when the plan of redemption is consummated, sin, 
which now almost fills the earth, will then set it on fire ; 
and the united interest of all the rest of mankind, when 
detached from that of the people of God, will not plead for 
its preservation a single day. In this view I congratulate 
your Lordship, that however your best endeavours to serve 
the temporal interests of the nation may fall short of your 
wishes ; yet so far as your situation gives you opportunity 
of supporting the Gospel cause, and facilitating its progress, 
you have a prospect both of a more certain and more im 
portant success. For instance, it was, under God, your 
Lordship s favour and influence that brought me into the 
ministry. And though I be nothing, yet He who put it 
in your heart to patronise me, has been pleased not to suffer 
what you then did for His sake to be wholly in vain. He 
has been pleased in a course of years, by so unworthy an 
instrument as I am, to awaken a number of persons who 
were at that time dead in trespasses and sins ; but now 
some of them are pressing on to the prize of their high calling 
of God in Christ Jesus ; and some of them are already before 
the throne. Should I suggest in some companies that the 
conversion of a hundred sinners (more or less) to God, is an 
event of more real importance than the temporal prosperity 
of the greatest nation upon earth, I should be charged with 
ignorance and arrogance ; but your Lordship is skilled in 


Scriptural arithmetic, which alone can teach us to estimate 
the value of souls, and will agree with me, that one soul 
is worth more than the whole world, on account of its re 
demption-price, its vast capacities, and its duration. Should 
we suppose a nation to consist of forty millions, the whole 
and each individual to enjoy as much good as this life can 
afford, without abatement, for a term of fifty years each ; 
all this good, or an equal quantity, might be exhausted by a 
single person in two thousand million of years, which would 
be but a moment in comparison with the eternity which 
would still follow. And if this good were merely temporal 
good, the whole aggregate of it would be evil and misery, 
if compared with that happiness in God, of which only they 
who are made partakers of a divine life are capable. On 
the other hand, were a whole nation to be destroyed by such 
accumulated miseries as attended the siege of Jerusalem, 
the sum total of these calamities would be but trifling, if 
set in competition with what every single person that dies 
in sin has to expect, when the sentence of everlasting 
destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of 
His power, shall be executed. 

What an unexpected round have my thoughts taken since 
I set out from the ice-palace ! It is time to relieve your 
Lordship, and to subscribe myself, &c. 


MY LORD, February 23, 1775. 

I ASSENT to our Lord s declaration, " Without Me 
ye can do nothing," not only upon the authority of the 
Speaker, but from the same irresistible and experimental 
evidence, as if He had told me, that I cannot make the sun 
to shine, or change the course of the seasons. Though my 
pen and my tongue sometimes move freely, yet the total 
incapacity and stagnation of thought I labour under at other 
times, convinces me, that in myself I have not sufficiency 
to think a good thought ; and I believe the case would be 
the same, if that little measure of knowledge and abilities, 


which I am too prone to look upon as my own, were a 
thousand times greater than it is. For every new service 
I stand in need of a new supply, and can bring forth nothing 
of my supposed store into actual exercise, but by His im 
mediate assistance. His gracious influence is that, to those 
who are best furnished with gifts, which the water is to the 
mill, or the wind to the ship, without which the whole 
apparatus is motionless and useless. I apprehend that we lose 
much of the comfort which might arise from a sense of our 
continual dependence upon Him, and of course fall short of 
acknowledging as we ought what we receive from Him, by 
mistaking the manner of His operation. Perhaps we take 
it too much for granted, that communications from Himself 
must bear some kind of sensible impression that they are 
His, and, therefore, are ready to give our own industry or 
ingenuity credit for those performances in which we can 
perceive no such impression ; yet it is very possible that we 
may be under His influence when we are least aware : and 
though what we say, or write, or do, may seem no way 
extraordinary ; yet that we should be led to such a parti 
cular turn of thought at one time rather than at another, 
has, in my own concerns, often appeared to me remarkable, 
from the circumstances which have attended, or the con 
sequences which have followed. How often, in the choice 
of a text, or in the course of a sermon, or in a letter to a 
friend, have I been led to speak a word in season ! and what 
I have expressed at large, and in general, has been so exactly 
suited to some case which I was utterly unacquainted with, 
that I could hardly have hit it so well, had I been previously 
informed of it. Some instances of this kind have been so 
striking, as hardly to admit a doubt of superior agency. 
And, indeed, if believers in Jesus, however unworthy in 
themselves, are the temples of the Holy Ghost ; if the Lord 
lives, dwells, and walks in them ; if He is their life and 
their light ; if He has promised to guide them with His 
eye, and to work in them to will and to do of His own good 
pleasure, methinks what I have mentioned, and more, 
may be reasonably expected. That line in the hymn, 

Help I every moment need, 
is not a hyperbolical expression, but strictly and literally 


true, not only in great emergencies, but in our smoother 
hours, and most familiar paths. This gracious assistance 
is afforded in a way imperceptible to ourselves, to hide pride 
from us, and to prevent us from being indolent and careless 
with respect to the use of appointed means : and it would be 
likewise more abundantly, and perhaps more sensibly 
afforded, were our spirits more simple in waiting upon the 
Lord. But, alas ! a divided heart, an undue attachment to 
some temporal object, sadly deadens our spirits, (I speak for 
myself,) and grieves the Lord s Spirit ; so that we walk in 
darkness, and at a distance, and, though called to great 
privileges, live far below them. But methinks the thought 
of Him who is always near, and upon whom we do, and 
most incessantly, depend, should suggest a powerful motive 
for the closest attention to His revealed will, and the most 
punctual compliance with it ; for so far as the Lord with 
draws we become as blind men, and with the clearest light, 
and upon the plainest ground, we are liable, or rather, sure 
to stumble at every step. 

Though there is a principle of consciousness, and a de 
termination of the will, sufficient to denominate our thoughts 
and performances our own, yet I believe mankind in general 
are more under an invisible agency than they apprehend. 
The Lord, immediately from Himself, and perhaps by the 
ministry of His holy angels, guides, prompts, restrains, or 
warns His people. So there undoubtedly is what I may call 
a black inspiration, the influence of the evil spirits who work 
in the hearts of the disobedient, and not only excite their 
wills, but assist their faculties and qualify as well as incline 
them to be more assiduously wicked, and more extensively 
mischievous, than they could be of themselves. I consider 
Voltaire, for instance, and many writers of the same stamp, 
to be little more than secretaries and amanuenses of one 
who has unspeakably more wit and adroitness in promoting 
infidelity and immorality than they of themselves can justly 
pretend to. They have for a while the credit (if I may so 
call it) of the fund from whence they draw ; but the world 
little imagines who is the real and original author of that 
philosophy and poetry, of those fine turns and sprightly 
inventions, which are so generally admired. Perhaps 
many, now applauded for their genius, would have been 


comparatively dolts, had they not been engaged in a cause 
which Satan has so much interest in supporting. 

But to return to the more pleasing subject. How great 
and honourable is the privilege of a true believer ! That he 
has neither wisdom nor strength in himself is no disadvantage, 
for he is connected with infinite wisdom and almighty power. 
Though weak as a worm, his arms are strengthened by the 
mighty God of Jacob, and all things become possible, yea, 
easy to him, that occur within the compass of his proper 
duty and calling. The Lord, whom he serves, engages to 
proportion his strength to his day, whether it be a day of 
service or of suffering ; and, though he be fallible and short 
sighted, exceedingly liable to mistake and imposition, 
yet, while he retains a sense that he is so, and with the 
simplicity of a child asks counsel and direction of the Lord, 
he seldom takes a wrong step, at least not in matters of 
consequence ; and even his inadvertencies are overruled for 
good. If he forgets his true state, and thinks himself to be 
something, he presently finds he is indeed nothing ; but if 
he is content to be nothing, and to have nothing, he is sure 
to find a seasonable and abundant communication of all 
that he wants. Thus he lives, like Israel in the wilderness, 
upon mere bounty ; but then it is a bounty unchangeable, 
unwearied, inexhaustible, and all-sufficient. Moses, when 
speaking of the methods the Lord took to humble Israel, 
mentions His feeding them with manna as one method. I 
could not understand this for a time. I thought they were 
rather in danger of being proud, when they saw themselves 
provided for in such an extraordinary way. But the manna 
would not keep ; they could not hoard it up, and were 
therefore in a state of absolute dependence from day to 
day : this appointment was well suited to humble them. 
Thus it is with us in spirituals. We should be better 
pleased, perhaps, to be set up with a stock or sufficiency at 
once, such an inherent portion of wisdom and power as 
we might depend upon, at least for common occasions, 
without being constrained, by a sense of indigence, to have 
continual recourse to the Lord for every thing we want. 
But His way is best. His own glory is most displayed, and 
our safety most secured, by keeping us quite poor and empty 
in ourselves, and supplying us from one minute to another, 


according to our need. This, if anything, will prevent 
boasting, and keep a sense of gratitude awake in our hearts. 
This is well adapted to quicken us to prayer, and furnishes 
us with a thousand occasions for praise, which would other 
wise -escape our notice. 

But who or what are we that the Most High should thus 
notice us ? should visit us every morning, and water us 
every moment ? It is an astonishing thought, that God 
should thus dwell with men ! That He, before whom the 
mightiest earthly potentates are less than nothing, and 
vanity, should thus stoop and accommodate Himself to the 
situation, wants, and capacities of the weakest, meanest, 
and poorest of His children. But so it hath pleased Him. 
He seeth not as a man seeth. 

I am, &c. 


MY LORD, August 1775- 

I HAVE no apt preface or introduction at hand, and, as 
I have made it almost a rule not to study for what I should 
offer your Lordship, I therefore beg leave to begin abruptly. 
It is the future promised privilege of believers in Jesus, 
that they shall be as the angels ; and there is a sense in which 
we should endeavour to be as the angels now. This is in 
timated to us where we are taught to pray, Thy will be done 
on earth, as it is in Heaven. I have sometimes amused 
myself with supposing an angel should be appointed to reside 
a while upon earth in a human body ; not in sinful flesh 
like ours, but in a body free from infirmity, and still pre 
serving an unabated sense of His own happiness in the 
favour of God, and of His unspeakable obligation to His 
goodness ; and then I have tried to judge, as well as I 
could, how such an angel would comport himself in such a 
situation. I know not that I ever enlarged upon the thought, 
either in preaching or writing ; permit me to follow it a little 
in this paper. 

Were I acquainted with this heavenly visitant, I am 


willing to hope I should greatly reverence him, and, if 
permitted, be glad in some cases to consult him : in some, but 
not in all ; for I think my fear would be equal to my love. 
Methinks I could never venture to open my heart freely to 
him, and unfold to him my numberless complaints and 
infirmities ; for, as he could have no experience of the like 
things himself, I should suppose he would not know how 
fully to pity me, indeed hardly how to bear with me, if I 
told him all. Alas ! what a preposterous, strange, vile 
creature should I appear to an angel, if he knew me as I am ! 
It is well for me that Jesus was made lower than the angels, 
and that the human nature He assumed was not distinct 
from the common nature of mankind, though secured from 
the common depravity ; and because He submitted to be 
under the law in our name and stead, though He was free 
from sin Himself, yet, sin and its consequences being (for 
our sakes) charged upon Him, He acquired, in the days of 
His humiliation, an experimental sympathy with His poor 
people. He knows the effects of sin and temptation upon 
us, by that knowledge whereby He knows all things ; but 
He knows them likewise in a way more suitable for our 
comfort and relief, by the sufferings and exercises He passed 
through for us. Hence arises encouragement. We have 
not an high-priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of 
our infirmities, but was in all points tempted even as we are. 
When I add to this the consideration of His power, promises, 
and grace, and that He is exalted on purpose to pity, relieve, 
and save, I gather courage. With Him I dare be free, and 
am not sorry, but glad, that He knows me perfectly, that 
not a thought of my heart is hidden from Him. For without 
this infinite and exact knowledge of my disease, how could 
He effectually administer to my cure ? But whither am I 
rambling ? I seem to have lost sight of the angel already. 
I am now coming back, that, if he cannot effectually pity 
me, he may at least animate and teach me. 

In the first place, I take it for granted this angel would 
think himself a stranger and pilgrim upon earth. He would 
not forget that his TroXcreu/m was in heaven. Surely 
he would look upon all the bustle of human life (farther than 
the design of his mission might connect him with it) with 
more indifference than we look upon the sports of children, 


or the amusements of idiots and lunatics, which give us 
an uneasiness, rather than excite a desire of joining in them. 
He would judge of everything around him, by the reference 
and tendency it had to promote the will of Him that sent 
him ; and the most specious or splendid appearances, con 
sidered in any other view, would make no impression upon 

Consequently, as to his own concernment, all his aim and 
desire would be to fulfil the will of God. All situations 
would be alike to him ; whether he was commanded, as in 
the case of Sennacherib, to destroy a mighty army with a 
stroke ; or, as in the case of Hagar, to attend upon a woman, 
a servant, a slave ; both services would be to him equally 
honourable and important, because he was in both equally 
pleasing his Lord, which would be his element and his joy, 
whether he was appointed to guide the reins of empire, or to 
sweep the streets. 

Again, the angel would doubtless exhibit a striking 
example of benevolence ; for, being free from selfish bias, 
filled with a sense of the love of God, and a knowledge of 
His adorable perfections, his whole heart, and soul, and 
strength, would be engaged and exerted, both from duty 
and inclination, to relieve the miseries, and advance the 
happiness of all around him ; and in this he would follow the 
pattern of Him who doth good to all, commanding His sun 
to rise, and His rain to fall, upon the just and the unjust ; 
though, from the same pattern, He would show an especial 
regard to the household of faith. An angel would take but 
little part in the controversies, contentions, and broils, 
which might happen in the time of his sojourning here, but 
would be a friend to all, so far as consistent with the general 

The will and glory of God being the angel s great view 
and having a more lively sense of the realities of an unseen 
world than we can at present conceive, he would certainly, 
in the first and chief place, have the success and spread of the 
glorious Gospel at heart. Angels, though not redeemed with 
blood, yet feel themselves nearly concerned in the work of 
redemption. They admire its mysteries. We may suppose 
them well informed in the works of creation and providence. 
But (unlike too many men who are satisfied with the know- 


ledge of astronomy, mathematics, or history) they search 
and pry into the counsels of redeeming love, rejoice at the 
conversion of a sinner, and think themselves well employed 
to be ministering spirits, to minister to the heirs of salvation. 
It would therefore be his chief delight to espouse and pro 
mote their cause, and to employ all his talents and influence 
in spreading the savour and knowledge of the name of Jesus, 
which is the only and effectual means of bringing sinners out 
of bondage and darkness into the glorious liberty of the sons 
of God. 

Lastly, though his zeal for the glory of his Lord would 
make him willing to continue here till he had finished the 
work given him to do, he would, I am persuaded, look for 
ward with desire to the appointed moment of his recall, that 
he might be freed from beholding and mixing with the sin 
and vanity of those who know not God, render his account 
with joy, and be welcomed to Heaven with a " Well done, 
good and faithful servant." Surely he would long for this, 
as a labourer for the setting sun ; and would not form 
any connexion with the things of time, which should prompt 
him to wish his removal protracted for a single hour beyond 
the period of his prescribed service. 

Alas, why am I not more like an angel ! My views in 
my better judgment are the same : my motives and obliga 
tions are even stronger ; an angel is not so deeply indebted 
to the grace of God as a believing sinner, who was once upon 
the brink of destruction, has been redeemed with blood, 
and might justly have been, before now, shut up with the 
powers of darkness, without hope ! Yet the merest trifles 
are sufficient to debase my views, damp my activity, and 
impede my endeavours in the Lord s service, though I profess 
to have no other end or desire which can make a continuance 
in life worthy my wish. I am, &c. 


MY LORD, Nov. 1775. 

Dum loquimur tempus fugit. In the midst of the hurries 
and changes of this unsettled state, we glide along swiftly 


towards an unchangeable world, and shall soon have as 
little connexion with the scenes we are now passing through, 
as we have with what happened before the flood. All that 
appears great and interesting in the present life, abstracted 
from its influence upon our internal character, and our ever 
lasting allotment, will soon be as unreal as the visions of the 
night. This we know and confess ; but, though our judg 
ments are convinced, it is seldom our hearts are duly affected 
by the thought. And, while I find it easy to write in this 
moralizing strain, I feel myself disposed to be seriously 
engaged about trifles, and trifling in the most serious con 
cerns, as if I believed the very contrary. It is with good 
reason the Lord challenges, as His own prerogative, the full 
knowledge of the deceitfulness, desperate wickedness, and 
latent depths of the human heart, which is capable of 
making even His own people so shamefully inconsistent 
with themselves, and with their acknowledged principles. 

I find that, when I have something agreeable in 
expectation, (suppose, for instance, it were a few hours 
conversation with your Lordship,) my imagination paints 
and prepares the scene beforehand ; hurries me over the 
intervening space of time, as though it were a useless 
blank, and anticipates the pleasure I propose. Many of my 
thoughts of tlu s kind are mere waking dreams ; for, perhaps, 
the opportunity I am eagerly waiting for never happens, 
but is swallowed up by some unforeseen disappointment ; 
or, if not, something from within or without prevents its 
answering the idea I had formed of it. Nor does my fancy 
confine itself within the narrow limits of probabilities ; it 
can busy itself as eagerly in ranging after chimeras and 
impossibilities, and engage my attention to the ideal pursuit 
of things which are never likely to happen. In these respects 
my imagination travels with wings ; so that if the wilderness, 
the multiplicity, the variety of the phantoms which pass 
through my mind in the space of a winter s day were known 
to my fellow-creatures, they would probably deem me, as 
I am so often ready to deem myself, but a more sober and 
harmless kind of lunatic. But if I endeavour to put this 
active roving power in a right track, and to represent to 
myself those scenes which, though not yet present, I know 
will soon be realized, and have a greatness which the most 


enlarged exercise of my powers cannot comprehend ; if I 
would fix my thoughts upon the hour of death, the end of 
the world, the coming of the Judge, or similar subjects ; 
then my imagination is presently tame, cold, and jaded, 
travels very slowly, and is soon wearied in the road of truth ; 
though in the fairy fields of uncertainty and folly it can skip 
from mountain to mountain. Mr. Addison supposes that 
the imagination alone, as it can be differently affected, is 
capable of making us either inconceivably happy or miserable. 
I am sure it is capable of making us miserable, though I 
believe it seldom gives us much pleasure, but such as is to 
be found in a fool s paradise. But, I am sure, were my 
outward life and conduct perfectly free from blame, the 
disorders and defilement of my imagination are sufficient 
to constitute me a chief sinner, in the sight of Him to whom 
the thoughts and intents of the heart are continually open, 
and who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. 

Upon this head I cannot but lament how universally, 
almost, education is suited, and as it were designed, to add 
to the stimulus of depraved nature. A cultivated imagina 
tion is commended and sought after as a very desirable 
talent, though it seldom means more than the possession of 
a large stock of other people s dreams and fables, with a 
certain quickness in compounding them, enlarging upon 
them, and exceeding them by inventions of our own. Poets, 
painters, and even historians, are employed to assist us, 
from our early years, in forming an habitual relish for sha 
dows and colourings, which both indispose for the search of 
truth, and even unfit us for its reception, unless proposed 
just in our own way. The best effect of the Belles Lettres 
upon the imaginations, seems generally expressed by the 
word taste. And what is this taste, but a certain disposition 
which loves to be humoured, smoothed, and flattered, and 
which can hardly receive or bear the most important truths, 
if they be not decorated and set off with such a delicacy 
and address as taste requires ? I say the most important 
truths, because truths of a secular importance strike so 
closely upon the senses, that the decision of taste perhaps is 
not waited for. Thus, if a man be informed of the birth of 
his child, or that his house is on fire, the message takes up 
his thoughts, and he is seldom much disgusted with the 


manner in which it is delivered. But what an insuperable 
bar is the refined taste of many to their profiting by the 
preaching of the Gospel, or even to their hearing it ! Though 
the subject of a discourse t be weighty, and some just repre 
sentation given of the evil of sin, the worth of the soul, and 
the love of Christ ; yet, if there be something amiss in the 
elocution, language, or manner of the preacher, people of 
taste must be possessed, in a good measure, of grace like 
wise, if they can hear him with tolerable patience. And, 
perhaps, three-fourths of those who are accounted the most 
sensible and judicious in the auditory, will remember little 
about the sermon, but the tone of the voice, the awkwardness 
of the attitude, the obsolete expressions, and the like ; 
while the poor and simple not being encumbered with this 
hurtful accomplishment, receive the messenger as the Lord s 
servant, and the truth as the Lord s word, and are comforted 
and edified. But I stop. Some people would say, that I 
must suppose your Lordship to have but little taste, or else 
much grace, or I should not venture to trouble you with 
such letters as mine. 

I am, &c. 



THE apostle speaks of a blessedness, which it is the 
design of the Gospel to impart to those who receive it. The 
Galatians once had it, and spoke of it. The apostle reminds 
them of their loss, which is left upon record as a warning 
to us. His expression has led me sometimes to consider 
wherein a Christian s present blessedness consists. I 
mean that which is attainable in this state of trial, and the 
sense and exercise of which may be, and too often is, sus 
pended and taken from us. It is a blessedness which, if 
we speak of man in a natural state, his eye hath not seen, 
nor his ear heard, so as to understand it, nor can the idea of 
it arise in his heart. It is no way dependent upon outward 
circumstances. Prosperity cannot impart it, preserve, 


or supply the want of it ; nor can adversity put it out of 
our reach. The wise cannot acquire it by dint of superior 
abilities ; nor shall the simple miss it for want of capacity. 

The state of true believers, compared with that of others, 
is always blessed. If they are born from above, and united 
to Jesus, they are delivered from condemnation, and are 
heirs of eternal life, and may therefore well be accounted 
happy. But I consider now, not their harvest, but their 
first fruits ; not their portion in reversion, but the earnest 
attainable in this life ; not what they shall be in Heaven, 
but what, in an humble attendance upon the Lord, they 
may be while upon earth. There is even at present a prize 
of our high calling set before us. It is much to be desired, 
that we had such a sense of its value as might prompt us to 
run that we might obtain. I have thought this blessedness 
may be comprised in five particulars, though, in order to 
take a succinct view of the subject, some of these might be 
branched out into several others ; but I would not, by too 
many subdivisions, give my letter the air of a sermon. 

In the first place, a clear, well-grounded, habitual per 
suasion of our acceptance in the Beloved is attainable ; 
and, though we may be safe, we cannot be said to enjoy 
blessedness without it. To be in a state of suspense and 
uncertainty in a point of so great importance is painful, and 
the Lord has accordingly provided that His people may have 
strong consolation on this head. They are blessed, therefore, 
who have such views of the power, grace, and suitableness of 
Jesus, and the certainty and security of redemption in Him, 
together with such a consciousness that they have anchored 
their hopes, and ventured their all upon His person, work, 
and promise, as furnishes them with a ready answer to all 
the cavils of unbelief and Satan, in the apostle s manner, 
Rom. viii. 31-37. That Paul could thus challenge and 
triumph over all charges and enemies was not an appendage 
of his office as an apostle, but a part of his experience as a 
believer ; and it lies equally open to us ; for we have the 
same Gospel and the same promises as he had ; nor is the 
efficacy of the Holy Spirit s teaching a whit weakened by 
length of time. But many stop short of this. They have a 
hope, but it rather springs from their frames and feelings than 
from a spiritual apprehension of the Redeemer s engagements 


and fullness, and therefore fluctuates and changes like the 
weather. Could they be persuaded to pray with earnestness 
and importunity, as the apostle prays for them, Eph. i. 
17, 18, and iii. 16, 19, they would find a blessedness which 
they have not yet known ; for it is said, " Ask, and ye shall 
receive." And it is said likewise, " Ye receive not because 
ye ask not." 

Could this privilege be enjoyed singly, the natural man 
would have no objection to it. He would (as he thinks) be 
pleased to know he should be saved at last, provided that 
while here he might live in his sins. But the believer will 
not, cannot think himself blessed, unless he has likewise a 
conscience void of offence. This was the apostle s daily 
exercise, though no one was farther from a legal spirit, or 
more dependent upon Jesus for acceptance. But if we live 
in any known sin, or allow ourselves in the customary omis 
sion of any known duty, supposing it possible, in such a case, 
to preserve a sense of our acceptance, (which can hardly be 
supposed ; for if the Spirit be grieved, our evidences decline 
of course,) yet we could not be easy. If a traveller was 
absolutely sure of reaching his journey s end in safety, yet, 
it he walked with a thorn in his foot, he must take every step 
in pain. Such a thorn will be felt in the conscience, till we 
are favoured with a simplicity of heart, and made willing in 
all things, great or small, to yield obedience to the authority 
of the Lord s precepts, and make them the standing rule of 
our conduct, without wilfully admitting a single exception. 
At the best, we shall be conscious of innumerable short 
comings, and shameful defilement ; but these things will 
not break our peace, if our hearts are upright. But if we 
trifle with light, and connive at what we know to be wrong, 
we shall be weak, restless, and uncomfortable. How many, 
who we would hope are the children of the King, are lean 
from day to day, because some right-hand or right-eye evil, 
which they cannot persuade themselves to part with, keeps 
them halting between two opinions ; and they are as distant 
from happiness, as they are from the possibility of reconciling 
the incompatible services of God and the world ! But happy 
indeed is he who condemneth not himself in that thing which 
he alloweth. 

Real communion with the Lord, in His appointed means 


of grace, is likewise an important branch of this blessedness. 
They were instituted for this end, and are sufficient, by virtue 
of His power and Spirit, to answer it. I do not believe this 
enjoyment will be always equal. But I believe a comfortable 
sense of it, in some measure, is generally attainable. To 
read the Scriptures, not as an attorney may read a will, 
merely to know the sense, but as the heir reads it, as a descrip 
tion and proof of his interest : to hear the Gospel, as the voice 
of our Beloved, so as to have little leisure either for admiring 
the abilities, or censuring the defects of the preacher ; and, 
in prayer, to feel a liberty of pouring out our hearts before 
the Lord, to behold some glances of His goodness passing 
before us, and to breathe forth before Him the tempers of a 
child, the spirit of adoption : and thus, by beholding His 
glory, to be conformed more and more to His image, and to 
renew our strength, by drawing water out of the wells of 
salvation : herein is blessedness. They who have tasted 
it can say, It is good for me to draw nigh to God. The soul, 
thus refreshed by the water of life, is preserved from thirsting 
after the vanities of the world, thus instructed in the 
sanctuary, comes down from the mount filled with heavenly 
wisdom, anointed with a holy unction, and thereby qualified 
to judge, speak, and act in character, in all the relations and 
occasions of secular life. In this way, besides the pleasure, a 
spiritual taste is acquired, something analogous to the mean 
ing of the word taste when applied to music or good breeding, 
by which discords and improprieties are observed and 
avoided, as it were by instinct, and what is right is felt and 
followed, not so much by the force of rules, as by a habit 
insensibly acquired, and in which the substance of all 
necessary rules are, if I may so say, digested. O that 
I knew more of this blessedness, and more of its effects ! 

Another branch of blessedness is a power of reposing 
ourselves and our concerns upon the Lord s faithfulness 
and care ; and may be considered in two respects. A 
reliance upon Him that He will surely provide for us, guide 
us, protect us, be our help in trouble, our shield in danger ; 
so that, however poor, weak, and defenceless in ourselves, we 
may rejoice in His all-sufficiency as our own ; and farther, 
in consequence of this, a peaceful, humble submission to His 
will, under all events, which, upon their first impression, are 



contrary to our own views and desires. Surely, in a world 
like this, where everything is uncertain, where we are exposed 
to trials on every hand, and know not but a single hour 
may bring forth something painful, yea, dreadful to our 
natural sensations, there can be no blessedness, but so far as 
we are thus enabled to entrust and resign all to the direction 
and faithfulness of the Lord our Shepherd. For want of more 
of this spirit, multitudes of professing Christians perplex 
and wound themselves, and dishonour their high calling, by 
continual anxieties, alarms, and complaints. They think 
nothing safe under the Lord s keeping, unless their own eye 
is likewise upon it ; and are seldom satisfied with any of His 
dispensations ; for, though He gratify their desires in nine 
instances, a refusal in the tenth spoils the relish of all, and 
they show the truths of the Gospel can afford them little 
comfort if self is crossed. But blessed is the man who 
trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. He shall 
not be afraid of evil tidings : he shall be kept in perfect peace, 
though the earth be moved, and the mountains cast into the 
midst of the sea. 

The paper admonishes me it is time to relieve your Lord 
ship. And I have not room to detain you long upon the 
fifth particular. It belongs to a believer s blessedness to 
feel his spirit cheerful and active for the Lord s service in 
the world. For to what other end should he wish to live ? 
If he thought of himself only, it would be better to depart 
and be with Jesus immediately. But he is a debtor to His 
grace and love ; and, though strictly he can make no returns, 
yet he longs to show his thankfulness : and if the Lord gives 
him a heart to redeem his time, to devote his strength and 
influence, and lay himself out for His service, that he may 
be instrumental in promoting His cause, in comforting His 
people, or enable him to let his light shine before men, 
that his God and Father may be honoured, He will account 
it blessedness. This is indeed the great end of life, and he 
knows it will evidently appear so at the approach of death ; 
and, therefore, while others are encumbered about many 
things, he esteems this the one thing needful. 

I remain, my Lord, &c. 



MY LORD, July 1776. 

THAT I may not weary you by a preamble, I oblige 
myself to take the turn of my letter from some passage of 
Scripture : and I fix upon that which just now occurred to 
my thoughts, a clause in that pattern of prayer which He 
who best knows our state has been pleased to leave for the 
instruction of His people, in their great concerns of waiting 
at His throne of grace, Matt. vi. 13, " And lead us not 
into temptation." This petition is seasonable at all times, 
and to all persons who have any right knowledge of them 
selves or their spiritual calling. 

The word temptation, taken at large, includes every 
kind of trial. To tempt, is to try or prove. In this sense, 
it is said, the Lord tempted Abraham, that is, He tried 
him ; for God cannot tempt to evil. He proposed such 
an act of obedience to him, as was a test of his faith, love, 
dependence, and integrity. Thus, all our afflictions, under 
His gracious management, are appointed to prove, manifest, 
exercise, and purify the graces of His children. And not 
afflictions only ; prosperity likewise is a state of temptation : 
and many who have endured sharp sufferings, and come 
off honourably, have been afterwards greatly hurt and en 
snared by prosperity. To this purpose the histories of 
David and Hezekiah are in point. But by temptation 
we more frequently understand the wiles and force which 
Satan employs in assaulting our peace, or spreading snares 
for our feet. He is always practising against us, either 
directly and from himself, by the access he has to our hearts, 
or mediately, by the influence he has over the men and the 
things of this world. The words which follow confirm 
this sense, " Lead us not into temptation ; but deliver 
us from evil," OTTO TOV vovtipov, from the evil one, as it 
might be properly rendered here, and in I John v. 19. The 
subtility and power of this adversary are very great ; he is 
an over-match for us ; and we have no hope of safety but in 
the Lord s protection. Satan s action upon the heart may 
be illustrated by the action of the wind upon the sea. The 
sea sometimes appears smooth ; but it is always disposed to 


swell and rage, and to obey the impulse of every storm. 
Thus, the heart may be sometimes quiet ; but the wind of 
temptation will awaken and rouse it in a moment : for it is 
essential to our depraved nature to be unstable and yielding 
as the water ; and, when it is under the impression of the 
enemy, its violence can only be controlled by Him who 
says to the raging sea, " Be still, and here shall thy proud 
waves be stayed." The branches of temptation are almost 
innumerable ; but the principal may be reduced to the 
several faculties of the soul, (as we commonly speak,) to 
which they are more directly suited. 

He has temptations for the understanding. He can 
blind the mind with prejudices and false reasonings, and 
ply it with arguments for infidelity, till the most obvious 
truths become questionable. Even where the Gospel has 
been received, he can insinuate error, which for the 
suddenness and malignity of its effects may be properly 
compared to poison. A healthy man may be poisoned in a 
moment ; and, if he be, the baneful drug is usually mixed 
with his food. Many who for a while seemed to be sound in 
the faith have had their judgments strongly and strangely 
perverted, and prevailed upon to renounce and oppose the 
truths they once prized and defended. Such instances are 
striking proofs of human weakness, and loud calls to watch 
fulness and dependence, and to beware of leaning to our own 
understandings. For these purposes he employs both 
preachers and authors, who, by fine words and fair speeches, 
beguile the hearts of the unwary. And, by his immediate 
influence upon the mind, he is able (if the Lord permits 
him) to entangle those who are providentially placed out 
of the reach of corrupt and designing men. 

He tempts the conscience. By working upon the unbelief 
of our hearts, and darkening the glory of the Gospel, he 
can hold down the soul to the number, weight, and aggrava 
tion of its sins, so that it shall not be able to look up to 
Jesus, nor draw any comfort from His blood, promises, and 
grace. How many go burdened in this manner, seeking 
relief from duties, and perhaps spending their strength in 
things not commanded, though they hear, and perhaps 
acknowledge the Gospel ! Nor are the wisest and most 
established able to withstand his assaults, if the Lord with- 


draw, and give him leave to employ his power and subtility 
unrestrained. The Gospel affords sufficient ground for 
an abiding assurance of hope ; nor should we rest satisfied 
without it. However, the possession and preservation of 
this privilege depend upon the Lord s presence with the soul, 
and His shielding us from Satan s attacks ; for I am per 
suaded he is able to sift and shake the strongest believer 
upon earth. 

He has likewise temptations suited to the will. Jesus 
makes His people willing in the day of His power ; yet 
there is a contrary principle remaining within them, of which 
Satan knows how to avail himself. There are occasions 
in which he almost prevails to set self again upon the throne, 
as Dagon was raised after he had fallen before the ark. How 
else should any, who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, 
give way to a repining spirit, account His dispensations hard, 
or His precepts too strict, so as to shrink from their observ 
ance through the fear of men, or a regard to their worldly 
interest ? 

Farther, he has snares for the affections. In managing 
these, he gains a great advantage from our situation in a 
world that knows not God. The Scripture gives Satan the 
title of God of this world ; and believers learn, by painful ex 
perience, how great his power is in and over the persons and 
things of it. So that to be steadfast in wisdom s ways 
requires unremitted efforts, like pressing through a crowd, 
or swimming against a stream. How hard is it to live in the 
midst of pitch and not be defiled ! The air of the world is 
infectious. Our business and unavoidable connexions are so 
interwoven with occasions of sin, and there is so much in 
our hearts suited to them, that, unless we are incessantly 
upheld by almighty strength, we cannot stand a day or 
an hour. Past victories afford us no greater security than 
they did Samson, who was shamefully surprised by enemies 
whom he had formerly conquered. Nor are we only tempted 
by compliances that are evil in themselves. With respect 
to these, perhaps, conscience may be awake, and we stand 
upon our guard ; but we are still upon Satan s ground ; 
and, while he may seem to allow himself defeated, he can 
dexterously change his method, and come upon us where we 
do not suspect him. For, Perimus in licitis. Perhaps our 


greatest danger arises from things in themselves lawful. 
He can tempt us by our nearest and dearest friends, and per 
vert every blessing of a kind Providence into an occasion of 
drawing our hearts from the Giver ; yea, spiritual blessings, 
gifts, comforts, and even graces, are sometimes the engines 
by which he practises against us, to fill us with vain 
confidence and self-sufficiency, or to lull us into formality 
and indolence. 

That wonderful power wliich we call the imagination is, 
I suppose, rather the medium of the soul s perceptions, 
during its present state of union with the body, than a spiri 
tual faculty, strictly speaking ; but it partakes largely of 
that depravity which sin has brought upon our whole frame, 
and affords Satan an avenue for assaulting us with the most 
terrifying, if not the most dangerous, of his temptations. At 
the best, we have but an indifferent command over it. We 
cannot, by an act of our own will, exclude, a thousand painful, 
wild, inconsistent, and hurtful ideas, which are ever ready to 
obtrude themselves upon our minds ; and a slight alteration 
in the animal system, in the motion of the blood, or nervous 
spirits, is sufficient to withdraw it wholly from our dominion, 
and to leave us, like a city without walls or gates, exposed 
to the incursion of our enemy. We are fearfully and 
wonderfully made ; and, with all our boasted knowledge of 
other things, can form no conception of what is so vastly 
interesting to us, the mysterious connexion between soul and 
body, and the manner in which they are mutually affected by 
each other. The effects we too sensibly feel. The wisest 
of men would be accounted fools or mad were they to 
express in words a small part of what passes within them ; 
and it would appear that much of the soberest life is little 
better than a waking dream : but how direful are the con 
sequences when the Lord permits some hidden pin in the 
human machine to be altered ! Immediately a door flies 
open which no hand but His can shut, and the enemy pours in 
like a flood, falsehood and horror, and the blackness of 
darkness ; the judgment is borne down and disabled, and 
the most distressing illusions seize us with all the apparent 
force of evidence and demonstration. When this is the 
case in a certain degree, we call it distraction ; but there are 
various degrees of it, which leave a person in the possession 


of his senses as to the things of common life, and yet are 
sufficient, with respect to his spiritual concerns, to shake the 
very foundations of his hope, and deprive him of all peace 
and comfort, and make him a terror to himself. All the 
Lord s people are not called to navigate in these deep waters 
of soul-distress ; but all are liable. Ah ! if we knew what 
some suffer, the horribilia de Deo, ct terribilia de fide, which 
excruciate the minds of those over whom Satan is permitted 
to tyrannize in this way, surely we should be more earnest 
and frequent in praying, " Lead us not into temptation." 
From some little sense I have of the malice and subtility of 
our spiritual enemies, and the weakness of those barriers 
which we have to prevent their assaults, I am fully per 
suaded that nothing less than the continual exertion of that 
almighty power which preserves the stars in their orbits, can 
maintain our peace of mind for an hour or a minute. In this 
view, all comparative difference in external situations seems 
to be annihilated ; for as the Lord s presence can make His 
people happy in a dungeon, so there are temptations which, 
if we felt them, would instantly render us incapable of 
receiving a moment s satisfaction from an assemblage of all 
earthly blessings, and make the company of our dearest 
friends tasteless, if not insupportable. 

Ah ! how little do the gay and the busy think of these 
things ! How little, indeed, do they think of them who 
profess to believe them ! How faint is the sense of our 
obligations to Him, Who freely submitted to the fiercest 
onsets of the powers of darkness, to free us from the punish 
ment due to our sins ; otherwise we must have been for ever 
shut up with those miserable and merciless spirits, who 
delight in our torment, and who, even in the present state, 
if they get access to our minds, can make our existence a 
burden ! 

But our Lord, who knows and considers our weakness, 
of which we are so little aware, allows and directs us to pray, 
" Lead us not into temptation." We are not to expect an 
absolute freedom from temptation ; we are called to be 
soldiers, and must sometimes meet with enemies, and per 
haps with wounds ; yet, considering this prayer as provided 
by Him who knows what we are, and where we are, it may 
afford us both instruction and consolation. 


It calls at a constant reflection upon our own weakness. 
Believers, especially young ones, are prone to rest too much 
in grace received. They feel their hearts warm ; and, like 
Peter, are ready to please themselves with thinking how they 
would act in such or such a state of trial. It is as if the Lord 
had said, Poor worms, be not high-minded, but fear and pray, 
that, if it may be, you may be kept from learning, by bitter 
experience, how weak your supposed strength is. It sweetly 
intimates, that all our ways, and all our enemies, are in the 
hands of our great Shepherd. He knows our path. We are 
short-sighted, and cannot tell what an hour may bring forth : 
but we are under His protection ; and, if we depend upon 
Him, we need not be anxiously afraid. He will be faithful 
to the trust we repose in Him, and will suffer no temptation 
to overtake us, but what He will support us under and 
bring us through. But it becomes us to beware of security 
and presumption, to keep our eyes upon Him, and not to 
think ourselves safe a moment longer than our spirits 
feel and breathe the meaning of this petition. 

It implies, likewise, the duty of watchfulness on our 
part, as our Lord enjoins them elsewhere, " Watch and pray." 
If we desire not to be led into temptation, surely we are not 
to run into it. If we wish to be preserved from error, we 
are to guard against a curious and reasoning spirit. If we 
would preserve peace of conscience, we must beware of 
trifling with the light and motions of the Holy Spirit ; for 
without His assistance we cannot maintain faith in exercise. 
If we would not be ensnared by the men of the world, we are 
to keep at a proper distance from them. The less we have to 
do with them the better, excepting so far as the providence 
of God makes it our duty, in the discharge of our callings 
and relations, and taking opportunities of doing them good. 
And, though we cannot wholly shut Satan out of our imagina 
tions, we should be cautious that we do not wilfully provide 
fuel for his flame ; but entreat the Lord to set a watch upon 
our eyes and our ears, and to teach us to reject the first 
motions and the smallest appearances of evil. 

I have been so intent upon my subject, that I have once 
and again forgot I was writing to your Lordship, otherwise 
I should not have let my lucubration run to so great a length, 
which I certainly did not intend when I began. I shall not 


add to this fault by making an apology. I have touched 
upon a topic of great importance to myself. I am one 
among many who have suffered greatly for want of paying 
more attention to my need of this prayer. O that I could be 
wiser hereafter, and always act and speak as knowing that 
I am always upon a field of battle, and beset by legions ! 

I am, with great respect, &c. 


MY LORD, September 1776. 

WITHOUT any preamble, I purpose now to wait on your 
Lordship, with a few thoughts on the meaning of that name 
which first obtained at Antioch ; in other words, what it is 
to be a Christian ? What are the effects which (making 
allowance for the unavoidable infirmities attending upon 
the present state of mortality) may be expected from a real 
experimental knowledge of the Gospel ? I would not in 
sinuate that none are Christians who do not come up to the 
character I would describe ; for then I fear I should un- 
Christian myself : but only to consider what the Scripture 
encourages us to aim at as the prize of our high calling in 
this life. It is generally allowed and lamented, that we are 
too apt to live below our privileges, and to stop short of 
what the spirit and the promises of the Gospel point out to 
us as attainable. 

Mr. Pope s admired line, " An honest man s the noblest 
work of God." may be admitted as a truth when rightly ex 
plained. A Christian is the noblest work of God in this 
visible world, and bears a much brighter impression of His 
glory and goodness than the sun in the firmament : and 
none but a Christian can be strictly and properly honest : 
all others are too much under the power of self, to do uni 
versally to others as they would others should do unto them : 
and nothing but a uniform conduct upon this principle 
deserves the name of honesty. 

The Christian is a new creature, born and taught from 
above. He has been convinced of his guilt and misery as 


a sinner, has fled for refuge to the hope set before him, has 
seen the Son and believed on Him : his natural prejudices 
against the glory and grace of God s salvation have been 
subdued and silenced by almighty power ; he has accepted 
the Beloved, and is made acceptable in Him : he now 
knows the Lord ; has renounced the confused, distant, un 
comfortable notions he once formed of God ; and beholds 
Him in Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the 
life, the only door by which we can enter to any true 
satisfying knowledge of God, or communion with Him. 
But he sees God in Christ reconciled, a Father, a Saviour, 
and a Friend, who has freely forgiven him all his sins, 
and given him the spirit of adoption : he is now no longer 
a servant, much less a stranger, but a son ; and, because a 
son, an heir already interested in all the promises, ad 
mitted to the throne of grace, and an assured expectant of 
eternal glory. The Gospel is designed to give us not only a 
peradventure or a probability, but a certainty both of our 
acceptance and our perseverance, till death shall be swal 
lowed up in life. And though many are sadly fluctuating 
and perplexed upon this head, and perhaps all are so for a 
season, yet there are those who can say, We know that we are 
of God ; and therefore they are steadfast and unmoveable 
in His way ; because they are confident that their labour 
shall not be in vain, but that, when they shall be absent from 
the body, they shall be present with the Lord. This is 
the state of the advanced, experienced Christian, who, being 
enabled to make his profession the chief business of his life, 
is strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Every 
one who has this hope in Christ, purifieth himself even as He 
is pure. I would now attempt a sketch of the Christian s 
temper, formed upon these principles and hopes, under 
the leading branches of its exercise, respecting God Himself, 
and His fellow-creatures. 

The Christian s temper God-ward is evidenced by humility. 
He has received from Gethsemane and Golgotha such a sense 
of the evil of sin, and of the holiness of God, combined with 
His matchless love to sinners, as has deeply penetrated 
his heart ; he has an affecting remembrance of the state of 
rebellion and enmity in which he once lived against this 
holy and good God ; and he has a quick perception of the 


defilements and defects which still debase his best services. 
His mouth is therefore stopped as to boasting ; he is vile in 
his own eyes, and is filled with wonder that the Lord should 
visit such a sinner with such a salvation. He sees so vast a 
disproportion between the obligations he is under to grace, 
and the returns he makes, that he is disposed, yea, con 
strained, to adopt the apostle s words without affectation, 
and to account himself less than the least of all saints ; 
and knowing his own heart, while he sees only the outside of 
others, he is not easily persuaded there can be a believer 
upon earth so faint, so unfruitful, so unworthy as himself. 
Yet, though abased, he is not discouraged, for he enjoys 
peace. The dignity, offices, blood, righteousness, faithful 
ness, and compassion of the Redeemer, in whom he rests, 
trusts, and lives, for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, 
and redemption, are adequate to all his wants and wishes, 
provide him with an answer to every objection, and give 
him no less confidence in God, than if he were sinless as an 
angel. For he sees, that though sin has abounded in him, 
grace has much more abounded in Jesus. With respect 
to the past, all things are become new ; with respect to the 
present and future, he leans upon an almighty arm, and 
relies upon the word and power which made and uphold the 
Heavens and the earth. Though he feels himself unworthy of 
the smallest mercies, he claims and expects the greatest 
blessings that God can bestow ; and being rooted and 
grounded in the knowledge and love of Christ, his peace 
abides, and is not greatly affected, either by the variation of 
his own frame, or the changes of God s dispensations towards 
him while here. With such a sense of himself, such a 
heartfelt peace and heavenly hope, how can his spirit 
but breathe love to his God and Saviour ? It is indeed the 
perfection of his character and happiness, that his soul is 
united by love to the chief good. The love of Christ is the 
joy of his heart, and the spring of his obedience. With his 
Saviour s presence, he finds a Heaven begun upon earth ; 
and without it all the other glories of the heavenly state 
would not content him. The excellence of Christ, His love 
to sinners, especially His dying love ; His love to himself, 
in seeking and saving him when lost, saving him to the utter 
most but I must stop. Your Lordship can better conceive 


than I can describe, how and why Jesus is dear to the heart 
that knows Him. That part of the Christian s life which is 
not employed in the active service of his Lord, is chiefly 
spent in seeking and maintaining communion with Him. 
For this he plies the throne, and studies the word of grace, 
and frequents the ordinances, where the Lord has promised 
to meet with His people. These are his golden hours ; 
and when thus employed, how poor and trivial does all that 
the world calls great and important appear in his eyes ! 
Yea, he is solicitous to keep up an intercourse of heart with 
his Beloved, in his busiest scenes ; and so far as he can 
succeed, it alleviates all his labours, and sweetens all his 
troubles. And when he is neither communing with his Lord, 
nor acting for Him, he accounts his time lost, and is ashamed 
and grieved. The truth of his love is manifested by sub 
mission. This is twofold, and absolute and without reserve 
in each. He submits to His revealed will, as made known to 
him by precept, and by His own example. He aims to tread 
in his Saviour s footsteps, and makes conscience of all His 
commandments, without exception and without hesitation. 
Again, he submits to His providential will ; he yields to 
His sovereignty, acquiesces in His wisdom ; he knows he 
has no right to complain of any thing, because he is a sinner ; 
and he has no reason, because he is sure the Lord does all 
things well. Therefore, his submission is not forced, but is an 
act of trust. He knows he is not more unworthy than 
he is unable to choose for himself, and therefore rejoices that 
the Lord has undertaken to manage for him ; and were he 
compelled to make his own choice, he could only choose, 
that all his concerns should remain in that hand to which he 
has already committed them. And thus he judges of public, 
as well as of his personal affairs. He cannot be an unaffected 
spectator of national sins, nor without apprehension of their 
deserved consequences ; he feels, and almost trembles for 
others ; but he himself dwells under the shadow of the 
Almighty, in a sanctuary that cannot be forced ; and, 
therefore, should he see the earth shaken, and the mountains 
cast into the midst of the sea, his heart would not be greatly 
moved, for God is his refuge. The Lord reigns. He sees 
his Saviour s hands directing every dark appearance, and 
overruling all to the accomplishment of His own great 


purposes : this satisfies him ; and though the winds and 
waves should be high, he can venture his own little bark in 
the storm, for he has an infallible and almighty Pilot on board 
with him. And, indeed, why should he fear when he has 
nothing to lose ? His best concerns are safe ; and other 
things he holds as gifts from his Lord, to whose call he is 
ready to resign them in whatever way He pleases, well 
knowing that creatures and instruments cannot of them 
selves touch a hair of his head, without the Lord s 
permission, and that He does permit them, it must be for 
the best. 

I might enlarge farther. But I shall proceed to consider 
the Christian s temper respecting himself. He lives godly 
and soberly. By sobriety we mean more than that he is 
not a drunkard ; his tempers toward God, of course, form 
him to a moderation in all temporal things. He is not 
scrupulous or superstitious : he understands the liberty of 
the Gospel, that every creature of God is good if it be received 
with thanksgiving : he does not aim at being needlessly 
singular, nor practice self-devised austerities. The Christian 
is neither a stoic nor a cynic ; yet he finds daily cause for 
watchfulness and restraint. Satan will not often tempt a 
believer to gross crimes ; our greatest snares and sorest 
conflicts are usually found in things lawful in themselves, 
but hurtful to us by their abuse, engrossing too much of our 
time, or of our hearts, or somehow indisposing us for com 
munion with the Lord. The Christian will be jealous of 
any thing that might entangle his affections, damp his zeal, 
or straiten him in his opportunities of serving his Saviour. 
He is likewise content with his situation, because the Lord 
chooses it for him ; his spirit is not eager for additions and 
alterations in his circumstances. If divine Providence 
points out and leads to a change, he is ready to follow, though 
it should be what the world would call from a better to a 
worse ; for he is a pilgrim and a stranger here, and a citizen 
of Heaven. As people of fortune sometimes, in travelling, 
submit cheerfully to inconvenient accommodations, very 
different from their homes, and comfort themselves with 
thinking they are not always to live so ; so the Christian is 
not greatly solicitous about externals. If he has them, he 
will use them moderately. If he has but little of them, he 


can make a good shift without them ; he is but upon a 
journey, and will soon be at home. If he be rich, experience 
confirms our Lord s words, Luke xii. 15 ; and satisfies 
him, that a large room, a crowd of servants, and twenty 
dishes upon his table, add nothing to the real happiness 
of life. Therefore he will not have his heart set upon 
such things. If he be in an humbler state, he is more 
disposed to pity, than to envy those above him ; for he 
judges they must have many incumbrances from which 
he is freed. However, the will of God, and the light of 
His countenance, are the chief things the Christian, whether 
rich or poor, regards ; and, therefore, his moderation is 
made known unto all men. 

A third branch of the Christian s temper respects his 
fellow-creatures. And here, methinks, if I had not filled 
a sheet already, I could enlarge with pleasure. We have, 
in this degenerate day, among those who claim and are 
allowed the name of Christian, too many of a narrow, selfish, 
mercenary spirit ; but in the beginning it was not so. The 
Gospel is designed to cure such a spirit, but gives no indul 
gence to it. A Christian has the mind of Christ, who went 
about doing good, who makes His sun to shine upon the good 
and the evil, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. 
His Lord s example forms him to the habit of diffusive 
benevolence ; he breathes a spirit of goodwill to mankind, 
and rejoices in every opportunity of being useful to the 
souls and bodies of others, without respect to parties or 
interests. He commiserates, and would, if possible, alleviate 
the miseries of all around him ; and if his actual services are 
restrained by want of ability, yet all share in his sympathy 
and prayers. Acting in the spirit of his Master he frequently 
meets with a measure of the like treatment ; but, if his good 
is requited with evil, he labours to overcome evil with good. 
He feels himself a sinner, and needs much forgiveness : 
this makes him ready to forgive. He is not haughty, 
captious, easily offended, or hard to be reconciled ; for at 
the feet of Jesus he has learned meekness ; and when he 
meets with unkindness or injustice, he considers, that, 
though he has not deserved such things from men, they are 
instruments employed by his heavenly Father (from whom 
he has deserved to suffer much more) for his humiliation 


and chastisement ; and is, therefore, more concerned for 
their sins than for his own sufferings, and prays, after the 
pattern of his Saviour, " Father, forgive them, for they know 
not what they do." He knows he is fallible, therefore cannot 
be positive. He knows he is frail, and therefore dares not 
be censorious. As a member of society, he is just, punctual 
in the discharge of every relative duty, faithful to his engage 
ments and promises, rendering to all their dues, obedient 
to lawful authority, and acting to all men according to the 
golden rule, of doing as he would be done by. His conduct 
is simple, devoid of artifice, and consistent, attending to 
every branch of duty ; and in the closet, the family, the 
church, and in the transactions of common life, he is the same 
man ; for in every circumstance he serves the Lord, and aims 
to maintain a conscience void of offence in His sight. No 
small part of the beauty of his profession in the sight of men, 
consists in the due government of his tongue. The law of 
truth, and kindness, and purity, is upon his lips. He abhors 
lying ; and is so far from inventing a slander, that he will 
not repeat a report to the disadvantage of his neighbour, 
however true, without a proper call. His converse is cheer 
ful, but inoffensive ; and he will no more wound another 
with his wit (if he has a talent that way) than with a knife. 
His speech is with grace, seasoned with salt, and suited to 
promote the peace and edification of all around him. 

Such is the Christian in civil life ; but though he loves 
all mankind, he stands in a nearer relation, and bears an 
especial brotherly love to all who are partakers of the faith 
and hope of the Gospel. This regard is not confined within 
the pale of a denomination, but extended to all who love 
the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. He calls no man master 
himself ; nor does he wish to impose a Shibboleth of his own 
upon others. He rejoices in the image of God wherever he 
sees it, and in the work of God wherever it is carried on. 
Though tenacious of the truths which the Lord has taught 
him, his heart is open to those who differ from him in less 
essential points, and allows to others that right of private 
judgment which he claims for himself, and is disposed to 
hold communion in love with all who hold the Head. He 
cannot, indeed, countenance those who set aside the one 
foundation which God has laid in Zion, and maintain errors 

C. G 


derogator}* to the honour of his Saviour, or subversive of the 
faith and experience of His people ; yet he wishes well to 
their persons, pities, and prays for them, and is ready in 
meekness to instruct them that oppose ; but there is no 
bitterness in his zeal, being sensible that raillery and invec 
tive are dishonourable to the cause of truth, and quite 
unsuitable in the mouth of a sinner, who owes all that dis 
tinguishes him from the vilest of men to the free grace of 
God. In a word, he is influenced by the wisdom from 
above, which, as it is pure, is likewise peaceable, gentle, 
and eas) r to be entreated, full of mercy and good works, 
without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 

I must just recur to my first head, and observe, that with 
this spirit and deportment, the Christian, while he is enabled 
to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God and 
man, is still sensible and mindful of indwelling sin : he has 
his eye more upon his rule than upon his attainments ; 
and therefore finds and confesses, that in every thing he comes 
exceedingly short, and that his best services are not only 
defective, but defiled ; he accounts himself an unprofitable 
sen-ant, is abased in his own eyes, and derives all his hope 
and comfort, as well as his strength, from Jesus, whom 
he has known, received, and trusted, to whom he has 
committed his soul, in whom he rejoices, and worships God 
in the spirit, renouncing all confidence in the flesh, and 
esteeming all things as loss, for the excellency of the know 
ledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. 

If I have lately been rather tardy in making my payments 
to your Lordship, I have proportionably increased the 
quantity. It is high time I should now relieve your patience. 
I hope I long to be a Christian indeed ; and I hope this 
hasty exemplification of my wishes will answer to your 
Lordship s experience, better than I fear it does to my own. 
May I beg a remembrance in your prayers, that He Who 
has given me to will and desire, may work in me to be and to 
do according to His own good pleasure. 

I am, &c. 



MY LORD, Nov. 1776. 

MY London journey, which prevented my writing in 
October, made me amends by an opportunity of waiting 
upon your Lordship in person. Some seasons are not only 
pleasant at the time, but afford me pleasure in the review. 
I could have wished the half-hour we were together by our 
selves prolonged to half a day. The subject your Lordship 
was pleased to suggest has been often upon my mind ; and 
glad should I be, were I able to offer you any thing satisfac 
tory upon it. There is no doubt but first religious im 
pressions are usually mingled with much of a legal spirit ; 
and that conscience, at such a time, is not only tender, but 
misinformed and scrupulous : and I believe, as your Lord 
ship intimated, that when the mind is more enlightened, and 
we feel a liberty from many fetters we had imposed upon 
ourselves, we are in danger of verging too far towards the 
other extreme. It seems to me that no one person can 
adjust the medium, and draw the line exactly for another. 
There are so many particulars in every situation, of which 
a stranger cannot be a competent judge, and the best 
human advices and models are mixed with such defects, that 
it is not right to expect others to be absolutely guided by our 
rules, nor is it safe for us implicitly to adopt the decisions 
or practices of others. But the Scripture undoubtedly 
furnishes sufficient and infallible rules for every person, 
however circumstanced ; and the throne of grace is ap 
pointed for us to wait upon the Lord for the best exposition 
of His precepts. Thus, David often prays to be led in the 
right way, in the path of judgment. By frequent prayer, 
and close acquaintance with the Scripture, and an habitual 
attention to the frame of our hearts, there is a certain deli 
cacy of spiritual taste and discernment to be acquired, which 
renders a nice disquisition concerning the nature and limits 
of the Adiaphora, as they are called, or how near we may go 
to the utmost bounds of what is right, without being wrong, 
quite unnecessary. Love is the clearest and most persuasive 
casuist ; and when our love to the Lord is in lively exercise, 
and the rule of His word is in our eye, we seldom make 

c 2 


great mistakes. And, I believe, the overdoings of a young 
convert, proceeding from an honest simplicity of heart, 
and a desire of pleasing the Lord, are more acceptable in His 
sight, than a certain coolness of conduct which frequently 
takes place afterward, when we are apt to look back with 
pity upon our former weakness, and secretly to applaud 
ourselves for our present greater attainments in knowledge, 
though, perhaps (alas, that it should ever be so !) we may 
have lost as much in warmth as we have gained in light. 

From the time we know the Lord, and are bound to Him 
by the cords of love and gratitude, the two chief points 
we should have in our view, I apprehend, are, to maintain 
communion with Him in our own souls, and to glorify Him 
in the sight of men. Agreeably to these views, though the 
Scripture does not enumerate or decide, totidem verbis, 
for or against many things which some plead for, and 
others condemn ; yet it furnishes us with some general 
canons, which, if rightly applied, will, perhaps, go a good 
way towards settling the debate, at least to the satisfaction 
of those who would rather please God than man. Some of 
these canons I will just remark to your Lordship : Rom. 
xii. 1,2; i Cor. viii. 13, and x. 31 ; 2 Cor. vi. 17 ; Ephes. 
iv. 30, and v. n, 15, 16 ; I Thess. v. 22; Ephes. vi. 18 ; 
to which I may add, as suitable to the present times, Isa. 
xxii. 12 ; Luke xxi. 34. I apprehend the spirit of these 
and similar passages of Scripture (for it would be easy 
to adduce a larger number) will bring a Christian under 
such restrictions as follow : 

To avoid and forbear, for his own sake, whatever has a 
tendency to damp and indispose his spirit in attendance 
upon the means of grace ; for such things, if they be not 
condemned as sinful per se, if they be not absolutely unlaw 
ful, yea, though they be, when duly regulated, lawful and 
right, (for often our chief snares are entwined with our 
blessings,) yet, if they have a repeated and evident tendency 
to deaden our hearts to divine things, of which each person s 
experience must determine, there must be something in 
them, either in season, measure, or circumstance, wrong to 
us ; and let them promise what they will, they do but rob 
us of our gold to pay us with counters. For the light of 
God s countenance, and an open cheerfulness of spirit in 


walking with Him in private, is our chief joy ; and we must 
be already greatly hurt, if any thing can be pursued, allowed, 
or rested in, as a tolerable substitute for it. 

For the sake of the church, and the influence example 
may have upon his fellow-Christians, the law of charity 
and prudence will often require a believer to abstain from 
some things, not because they are unlawful, but inexpedient. 
Thus the apostle, though strenuous for the right of his 
Christian liberty, would have abridged himself of the use, 
so as to eat no meat, rather than offend a weak brother, 
rather than mislead him to act against the present light of 
his conscience. Upon this principle, if I could, without hurt 
to myself, attend some public amusements, as a concert or 
oratorio, and return from thence with a warm heart to my 
closet, (the possibility of which, in my own case, I greatly 
question,) yet I should think it my duty to forbear, lest 
some weaker than myself should be encouraged by me to 
make the like experiment, though, in their own minds, they 
might fear it was wrong, and have no other reason to think 
it lawful but because I did it : in which case I should sus 
pect, that though I received no harm, they would. And I 
have known and conversed with some who, I fear, have made 
shipwreck of their profession, who have dated their first 
decline from imitating others, whom they thought wiser 
and better than themselves, in such kind of compliances. 
And it seems that an obligation to this sort of self-denial, 
rises, and is strengthened, in proportion to the weight 
and influence of our characters. Were I in private life, I 
do not know that I should think it sinful to kill a partridge 
or a hare ; but, as a minister, I no more dare do it than I 
dare join in a drunken frolic, because I know it would give 
offence to some, and be pleaded for as a licence by others. 

There is a duty, and a charity likewise, which we owe 
to the world at large, as well as a faithfulness to God and 
His grace, in our necessary converse among them. This 
seems to require, that though we should not be needlessly 
singular, yet, for their instruction, and for the honour of 
our Lord and Master, we should keep up a certain kind of 
singularity, and show ourselves called to be a separated 
people : that though the providence of God has given us 
callings and relations to fill up (in which we cannot be too 


exact), yet we are not of the world, but belong to another 
community, and act from other principles, by other rules, 
and to other ends, than the generality of those about us. I 
have observed, that the world will often leave professors 
in quiet possession of their notions and sentiments, and 
places of worship, provided they will not be too stiff in the 
matter of conformity with their more general customs and 
amusements. But I fear many of them have had their 
prejudices strengthened against our holy religion by such 
compliances, and have thought, that if there were such 
joy and comfort to be found in the ways of God, as they hear 
from our pulpits, professors would not, in such numbers, 
and so often, run amongst them, to beg a relief from the 
burden of time hanging upon their hands. As our Lord 
Jesus is the great representative of His people in Heaven, 
He does them the honour to continue a succession of them 
as His representatives upon earth. Happy are they who are 
favoured with most of the holy unction, and best enabled 
to manifest to all around them, by their spirit, tempers, 
and conversation, what are the proper design and genuine 
effect of His Gospel upon the hearts of sinners. 

In our way of little life in the country, serious people 
often complain of the snares they meet with from worldly 
people, and yet they must mix with them to get a livelihood. 
I advise them, if they can, to do their business with the world 
as they do it in the rain. If their business calls them abroad, 
they will not leave it undone for fear of being a little wet ; 
but then, when it is done, they presently seek shelter, and 
will not stand in the rain for pleasure. So providential and 
necessary calls of duty that lead us into the world, will not 
hurt us, if we find the spirit of the world unpleasant, and 
are glad to retire from it, and keep out of it as much as our 
relative duties will permit. That which is our cross is not 
so likely to be our snare ; but if that spirit which we should 
always watch and pray against, infects and assimilates our 
minds to itself, then we are sure to suffer loss, and act below 
the dignity of our profession. 

The value of time is likewise to be taken into the account. 
It is a precious talent, and our Christian profession opens 
a wide field for the due improvement of it. Much of it 
has been alreadv lost, and therefore we are exhorted to 


redeem it. I think many things which custom pleads for will 
be excluded from a suitableness to a Christian, for this one 
reason, that they are not consistent with the simple notion of 
the redemption of time. It is generally said we need 
relaxation ; I allow it in a sense ; the Lord Himself has 
provided it ; and, because our spirits are too weak to be 
always upon the wing in meditation and prayer, He has 
appointed to all men, from the king downwards, something 
to do in a secular way. The poor are to labour ; the rich 
are not exempted from something equivalent. And when 
every thing of this sort in each person s situation is properly 
attended to, I apprehend, if the heart be alive, and in a right 
state, spiritual concernments will present themselves, as 
affording the noblest, sweetest, and most interesting relaxa 
tion from the cares and business of life ; as, on the other hand, 
that business will be the best relaxation, and unbending of 
the mind from religious exercises, and, between the two, 
perhaps, there ought to be but little mere leisure time. 
A life in this sense, divided between God and the world, 
is desirable ; when one part of it is spent in retirement, 
seeking after, and conversing with Him whom our souls 
love ; and the other part of it employed in active services, 
for the good of our family, friends, the church, and society, 
for His sake. Every hour which does not fall in with one or 
other of these views, I apprehend, is lost time. 

The day in which we live seems likewise to call for some 
thing of a peculiar spirit in the Lord s people. It is a day of 
abounding sin, and I fear a day of impending judgment. 
The world, as it was in the days of Noah and Lot, is secure. 
We are soon to have a day of apparent humiliation ; but the 
just causes for it are not confined to one day, but will subsist, 
and too probably increase, every day. If I am not mistaken 
in the signs of the times, there never was, within the annals 
of English history, a period in which the spirit and employ 
ment described, Ezek. ix. 4, could be more suitable than the 
present. The Lord calls for mourning and weeping, but the 
words of many are stout against Him ; new species of dissi 
pation are invented almost daily, and the language of those 
who bear the greatest sway in what is called the polite circle, 
I mean the interpretative language of their hearts, is like that 
of the rebellious Jews, Jer. xliv. 16, &c. : " As for the word 


that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, 
we will not hearken unto thee." In short, things are coming 
to a point, and it seems to be almost putting to the vote, 
whether the Lord or Baal be God. In this state of affairs, 
methinks, we cannot be too explicit in avowing our attach 
ment to the Lord, nor too careful in avoiding an improper 
correspondence with those who are in confederacy against 
Him. We know not how soon we may greatly need that 
mark of providential protection which is restrained to those 
who sigh and cry for our abominations. Upon the whole, 
it appears to me, that it is more honourable, comfortable, 
and safe, (if we cannot exactly hit the golden mean,) to be 
thought by some too scrupulous and precise, than actually 
to be found too compliant with those things which, if not 
absolutely contrary to a divine commandment, are hardly 
compatible with the genius of the Gospel, or conformable to 
the mind that was in Christ Jesus, which ought also to be 
in His people. The places and amusements which the world 
frequent and admire, where occasions and temptations to 
sin are cultivated, where the law of what is called good-breed 
ing is the only law which may not be violated with impunity, 
where sinful passions are provoked and indulged, where the 
fear of God is so little known or regarded, that those who do 
fear Him must hold their tongues, though they should hear 
His name blasphemed, can hardly be a Christian s voluntarily 
chosen ground. Yet, I fear, these characters will apply to 
every kind of polite amusement or assembly in the kingdom. 

As to family connexions, I cannot think we are bound to 
break or slight them. But as believers and their friends 
often live, as it were, in two elements, there is a mutual 
awkwardness, which makes their interviews rather dry and 
tedious. But upon that account they are less frequent than 
they would otherwise be, which seems an advantage. Both 
sides keep up returns of civility and affection ; but as they 
cannot unite in sentiment and leading inclination, they will 
not contrive to be very often together, except there is some 
thing considerable given up by one or the other ; and I 
think Christians ought to be very cautious what concessions 
they make upon this account. But, as I said at the begin 
ning, no general positive rules can be laid down. 

I have simply given your Lordship such thoughts as 


have occurred to me while writing, without study, and 
without coherence. I dare not be dogmatical ; but I 
think what I have written is agreeable both to particular 
texts, and to the general tenour of Scripture. I submit it 
to your judgment. 

I am, &c. 


MY LORD, July 1777. 

I OWE your Lordship a quire of letters for the favour 
and pleasure of your late visit : and, therefore, I must 
begin and write away. 

I have lately read Robertson s History of Charles V., 
which, like most other histories, I consider as a comment upon 
those passages of Scripture which teach us the depravity 
of man, the deceitfulness of the heart, the ruinous effects 
of sin, and the powerful, though secret, rule of divine provi 
dence, moving, directing, controlling the designs and 
actions of men, with an unerring hand, to the accomplish 
ment of His own purposes, both of mercy and judgment. 
Without the clew and the light which the word of God 
affords, the history of mankind, of any, of every age, only 
presents to view a labyrinth and a chaos ; a detail of wicked 
ness and misery to make us tremble, and a confused jumble 
of interfering incidents, as destitute of stability, connexion, 
or order, as the clouds which fly over our heads. In this 
view, Delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi, may serve as a motto 
to all the histories I have seen. But, with the Scripture 
key, all is plain, all is instructive. Then I see, verily there 
is a God who governs the earth, who pours contempt upon 
princes, takes the wise in their own craftiness, overrules 
the wrath and pride of man, to bring His own designs to pass, 
and restrains all that is not necessary to that end ; blasting 
the best-concerted enterprises at one time, by means appar 
ently slight, and altogether unexpected, and, at other times, 
producing the most important events, from instruments 
and circumstances which are at first thought too feeble and 


trivial to deserve notice. I should like to see a writer of 
Dr. Robertson s abilities give us a history upon this plan ; 
but I think his reflections of this sort are too general, too 
cold, and too few. What an empty phantom do the great 
men of the world pursue, while they wage war with the peace 
of mankind, and butcher (in the course of their lives) perhaps 
hundreds of thousands, to maintain the shadow of authority 
over distant nations, whom they can reach with no other 
influence than that of oppression and devastation ! But 
when we consider those who are sacrificed to their ambition, 
as justly suffering for their sins, then heroes and conquerors 
appear in their proper light, and worthy to be classed with 
earthquakes and pestilences, as instruments of divine 
vengeance. So many cares, so much pains, so many mis 
chiefs, merely to support the idea a worm has formed of 
his own grandeur, is a proof that man, by nature, is not 
only depraved, but infatuated. Permit me to present my 
thoughts to more advantage in the words of M. Nicole : 

" Un Grand dans son ide"e n est pas un seul homme ; 
c est un homme environne de tons ceux qui sont a lui, et 
qui s imagine avoir autant de bras qu ils en ont tous ensemble, 
parce qu il en dispose et qu il les remue. Un Ge ne ral 
d arme e se repre"sente toujours a lui-me me au milieu de tous 
ses soldats. Ainsi chacun tache d occuper le plus de place 
qu il peut dans son imagination, et Ton ne se pousse, et ne 
s agrandit dans le monde, que pour augmenter 1 idee que 
chacun se forme de soi-mfeme. Voila le but de tous les 
desseins ambitieux des homines ! Alexandre et Caesar 
n ont point eu d autre vue dans toutes leurs batailles que 
celle-la. Et si Ton demande pourquoi le Grand Seigneur a 
fait depuis peu pe"rir cent mille hommes devant Candie, on 
peut repondre sflrement, que ce n est que pour attacher 
encore a cette image interieure qu il a de lui-mfeme, le titre 
de Conqurant."* 

How awful is the case of those who live and die in such 
a spirit, and who have multiplied miseries upon their fellow- 
creatures, in order to support and feed it ! Perhaps they 
may, upon their entrance on another state, be accosted by 
multitudes, to the purport of that sarcastical language in the 

* Essais de Morale, vol. i. 


prophet s sublime ode of triumph over the king of Babylon, 
Isa. xiv. 5-17. 

Hie est, quern fuga, quern pavor 
Praecessit ? hie, quern terricolis gravem 
Strages secuta est, vastitasque ? hie 

Attoniti spoliator orbis ? 

But though the effects of this principle of self are more 
extensive and calamitous, in proportion as those who are 
governed by it are more elevated, the principle itself is 
deep-rooted in every heart, and is the spring of every action, 
till grace infuses a new principle, and self, like Dagon, falls 
before the Lord of Hosts. Great and small are but relative 
terms ; and the passions of discontent, pride, and envy, 
which, in the breast of a potentate, are severely felt by one- 
half of Europe, exert themselves with equal strength in the 
heart of a peasant, though, for want of materials and oppor 
tunities, their operations are confined within narrow bounds. 
We are fallen into a state of gross idolatry, and self is the 
idol we worship. I am, &c. 



REV. MR. S- 


DEAR SIR, June 23, 1775. 

I HAVE met with interruptions till now, or you would 
have heard from me sooner. My thoughts have run much 
upon the subject of your last, because I perceive it has a near 
connexion with your peace. Your integrity greatly pleases 
me ; far be it from me to shake the principle of your conduct ; 
yet, in the application, I think there is a possibility of carry 
ing your exceptions too far. 

From the account you give me of your sentiments, I 
cannot but wonder you find it so difficult to accede to the 
Athanasian Creed, when it seems to me you believe and 
avow what the Creed chiefly sets forth. The doctrine of 
the Trinity, some explication of the terms being subjoined, 
is the Catholic faith, without the belief of which a man cannot 
be saved. This damnatory clause seems to me proved by 
Mark xvi. 16 : " He that believeth shall be saved," &c. 
The object of faith must be truth . The doctrine of the Deity 
of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, in union with the Father, 
so that they are not three Gods, but one God, is not merely a 
proposition expressed in words, to which our assent is re 
quired, but is absolutely necessary to be known ; since, 
without it, no one truth respecting salvation can be rightly 
understood, no one promise duly believed, no one duty 
spiritually performed. I take it for granted, that this 
doctrine must appear irrational and absurd in the eye of 
reason, if by reason we mean the reason of man in his fallen 
state, before it is corrected and enlightened by a heavenly 



Teacher. No man can say Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy 
Ghost. I believe with you, that a man may be saved 
who never heard of the Creed, who never read any book but 
the New Testament, or, perhaps, a single Evangelist ; but 
he must be taught of God the things that accompany 
salvation, or I do not think he can be saved. The mercies 
of God in Christ will not save any, (as I apprehend,) but 
according to the method revealed in His word, that is, those 
who are truly partakers of faith and holiness. For, as the 
religion of the New Testament ascribes all power to God, 
and considers all goodness in us as the effect of His com 
munication, we being by nature destitute of spiritual life or 
light ; so those whom God Himself is pleased to teach will 
infallibly attain the knowledge of all that they are concerned 
to know. This teaching you are waiting for, and it shall 
be given you ; yea, the Lord, I trust, has begun to teach you 
already ; but if you consider yourself as a learner, and that 
it is possible, under the Spirit s increasing illumination, you 
may hereafter adopt some things which, at present, you 
cannot approve, I should think it too early, as yet, to prescribe 
to yourself rules and determinations for the government of 
your future life. Should the will of God appoint you a 
new path for service, He may, sooner than you are aware, 
quiet your mind, and enable you to subscribe with as full a 
persuasion of mind, as you now object to subscription. If it 
depended upon me, I could be content that the Creed should 
rest at the bottom of the sea, rather than embarrass a single 
person of your disposition. Nor am I a warm stickler for 
subscription in itself ; but something of this kind seems 
necessary, upon the supposition of an Establishment. 

When I think of an inclosure, some hedge, wall, bank, 
ditch, &c., is, of course, included in my idea ; for who can 
conceive of an inclosure without a boundary ? So, in a 
National Church, there must be, I apprehend, something 
marked out, the approbation or refusal of which will deter 
mine who do or do not belong to it : and for this purpose 
Articles of some kind seem not improper. You think it 
would be better to have these articles in Scriptural expres 
sions. But if it be lawful to endeavour to exclude from 
our pulpits men who hold sentiments the most repugnant to 
the truth, I wish you to consider, whether this can be in any 


measure secured by Articles in which the Scripture doctrines 
are not explained and stated, as well as expressed. This 
proposal is strenuously pleaded for by many in our day, 
upon views very different from yours. The Socinians, for 
instance, would readily subscribe a Scriptural declaration 
of the high priesthood, atonement, and intercession of Christ 
(while they are allowed to put their own sense upon the 
terms), though the sense they maintain be utterly incon 
sistent with what those who are enlightened by the Holy 
Spirit learn from the same expressions. 

I acknowledge, indeed, that the end is not answered by 
the present method ; since there are too many like the person 
you mention, who would easily subscribe 900 Articles rather 
than baulk his preferment : yet the profligacy of some 
seems to be no just reason why the Church, why any Church, 
should not be at liberty to define the terms upon which they 
will accept members or teachers, or why conscientious persons 
should object to these terms, (if they think them agreeable to 
the truth,) merely because they are not expressed in the 
precise words of Scripture. If allowance may be made for 
human infirmity in the Liturgy, I see not why the Articles 
may not be entitled to the same privilege. For it seems 
requisite that we should be as well satisfied with the expres 
sions we use with our lips, in frequent solemn prayer to God, 
as in what we subscribe with our hands. I am persuaded 
that the leaders of the Association at the Feathers Tavern, 
some of them at least, though they begin with the affair 
of subscription, would not (if they might have their wish) 
stop there, but would go on with their projected reform till 
they had overturned the Liturgy also, or, at least, weeded 
it from every expression that bears testimony to the Deity 
of the Saviour, and the efficacious influence of the Holy 
Spirit. I bless God that you are. far otherwise minded. 

I hope, however, though you should not think yourself 
at liberty to repeat your subscription, the Lord will make you 
comfortable and useful in your present rank as a curate. 
Preferment is not necessary, either to our peace or usefulness. 
We may live and die contentedly, without the honours and 
emoluments which aspiring men thirst after, if He be pleased 
to honour us with a dispensation to preach His Gospel, 
and to crown our endeavours with a blessing. He that 


winneth souls is wise ; wise in the choice of the highest 
end he can propose to himself in this life ; wise in the 
improvement of the only means by which this desirable end 
can be attained. \Vherever we cast our eyes, the bulk 
of the people are ignorant, immoral, careless. They live 
without God in the world ; they are neither awed by His 
authority, nor affected by His goodness, nor enabled to trust 
to His promises, nor disposed to aim at His glory. If, 
perhaps, they have a serious interval, or some comparative 
sobriety of character, they ground their hopes upon their 
own doings, endeavours, or purposes ; and treat the in 
expressible love of God revealed in Christ, and the Gospel- 
method of salvation by faith in His name, with neglect, 
often with contempt. They have preachers whom, perhaps, 
they hear with some pleasure, because they neither alarm 
their consciences by insisting on the spirituality and sanction 
of the divine law, nor offend their pride by publishing the 
humiliating doctrines of that Gospel which is the poM r er of 
God through faith unto salvation. Therefore, what they do 
speak, they speak in vain ; the world grows worse and worse 
under their instructions ; infidelity and profligacy abound 
more and more ; for God will own no other doctrine but what 
the apostle calls the " truth as it is in Jesus " ; that doctrine 
which drives the sinner from all his vain pleas, and points 
out the Lord Jesus Christ as the only ground of hope, the 
supreme object of desire, as appointed of God to be wisdom, 
righteousness, sanctincation, and redemption to all who 
believe in His name. When ministers themselves are con 
vinced of sin, and feel the necessity of an almighty Saviour, 
they presently account their former gain but loss, and de 
termine, with the apostle, to know nothing but Jesus Christ, 
and Him crucified. In proportion as they do this, they are 
sure to be wondered at, laughed at, and railed at, if the 
providence of God, and the constitution of their country, 
secure them from severer treatment. But they have this 
invaluable compensation, that they no longer speak without 
effect. In a greater or less degree a change takes place in 
their auditories : the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear, 
the lepers are cleansed ; sinners are turned from darkness 
to light, and from the power of Satan to God ; sinful prac 
tices are forsaken ; and a new course of life in the converts 


evidences that they have not followed cunningly-devised 
fables, or taken up with uncertain notions ; but that God 
has indeed quickened them by His Spirit, and given them an 
understanding to know Him that is true. The preachers, 
likewise, while they attempt to teach others, are taught 
themselves ; a blessing descends upon their studies and 
labours, upon their perusal of the Scripture, upon their 
attention to what passes within them and around them. 
The events of every day contribute to throw light upon the 
word of God ; their views of divine truth grow more enlarged, 
connected, and comprehensive ; many difficulties which 
perplexed them at their first setting out, trouble them no 
more ; the God whom they serve, and on whom they wait, 
reveals to them those great things, which, though plainly 
expressed in the letter of the Scripture, cannot be understood 
and realised without divine teaching (i Cor. ii. 9-15). 
Thus they go on from strength to strength, hard things 
become easy, and a divine light shines upon their paths. 
Opposition from men, perhaps, may increase ; they may ex 
pect to be represented as those who turn the world upside 
down : the cry, /wyaXq / Aprt/xtc*, will be raised against them, 
the gates of the temple of preferment will be seldom open 
to them ; but they will have the unspeakable consolation 
of applying to themselves those lively words of the apostle, 

ur yviTHfjtit oi, ott (i jmpo>Tc *C Trrw^ot, TroXXnc Ct Tr\nriovTtr fl/r 

Kttl TOITtt 

It is the strain of evident sincerity which runs through 
your letters, that gives me a pleasing confidence the Lord 
is with you. A disinterested desire of knowing the truth, 
with a willingness to follow it through all disadvantages, 
is a preparation of the heart which only God can give. He 
has directed you to the right method searching the Scrip 
ture, with prayer. Go on, and may His blessing attend you. 
You may see, from what I have written above, what is the 
desire of my heart for you. But I am not impatient. Follow 
your heavenly Leader, and, in His own time and manner, He 
will make your way plain. I have travelled the path before 
you ; I see what you yet want ; I cannot impart it to you, 
but He can, and I trust He will. It will rejoice my soul to 

* Great is Diana. f 2 Cor. vi. 10. 


be in any way assistant to you ; but I am afraid I should 
not afford you much, either profit or satisfaction, by entering 
upon a dry defence of Creeds and Articles. 

The truths of Scripture are not like mathematical theorems 
which present exactly the same ideas to every person who 
understands the terms. The word of God is compared to 
a mirror (2 Cor. iii. 18) ; but it is a mirror in which the longer 
we look, the more we see ; the view will be still growing 
upon us, and still we shall see but in part while on this side 
eternity. When our Lord pronounced Peter blessed, declar 
ing he had learnt that which flesh and blood could not have 
taught him, yet Peter was at that time much in the dark. 
The sufferings and death of Jesus, though the only and 
necessary means of his salvation, were an offence to him. 
But he lived to glory in what he once could not bear to hear 
of. Peter had received grace to love the Lord Jesus, to 
follow Him, to venture all, and to forsake all, for Him : 
these first good dispositions were of God, and they led to 
further advances. So it is still. By nature, self rules in 
the heart ; when this idol is brought low, and we are truly 
willing to be the Lord s, and to apply to Him for strength 
and direction that we may serve Him, the good work is 
begun ; for it is a truth that holds universally, and without 
exception, a man can receive nothing, except it be given 
him from heaven. The Lord first finds us when we are 
thinking of something else (Isaiah Ixv. i) ; and then we begin 
to seek Him in good earnest, and He has promised to be 
found of us. People may, by industry and natural abilities, 
make themselves masters of the external evidences of 
Christianity, and have much to say for and against different 
schemes and systems of sentiment ; but all this while the 
heart remains untouched. True religion is not a science 
of the head, so much as an inward and heartfelt perception, 
which casts down imaginations, and every v^w^a that 
exalteth itself in the mind, and brings every thought into a 
sweet and willing subjection to Christ by faith. Here the 
learned have no real advantage above the ignorant ; both 
see when the eyes of the understanding are enlightened ; 
till then, both are equally blind. And the first lesson in the 
school of Christ is to become a little child, sitting simply at 
His feet, that we may be made wise unto salvation. 

c H 


I was not only prevented beginning my letter so soon 
as I wished, but have been unusually interrupted since I 
began it. Often, as soon as I could well take the pen in 
hand, I have been called away to attend company and 
intervening business. Though I persuade myself, after 
what I have formerly said, you will put a favourable con 
struction upon my delay, yet it has given me some pain. I 
set a great value upon your offer of friendship, which I trust 
will not be interrupted on either side, by the freedom with 
which we mutually express our difference of sentiments, 
when we are constrained to differ. You please me with 
intrusting me with the first rough draught of your thoughts ; 
and you may easily perceive, by my manner of writing, 
that I place equal confidence in your candour. I shall be glad 
to exchange letters as often as it suits us, without constraint, 
ceremony, or apology ; and may He, who is always present 
with our hearts, make our correspondence useful. I pray 
God to be your sun and shield, your light and strength, to 
guide you with His eye, to comfort you with His gracious 
presence in your own soul, and to make you a happy instru 
ment of comforting many. I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, July 14, 1775. 

I GLADLY adopt your address, and can assure you that 
the interchange of every letter unites my heart more closely 
to you. I am glad to find that your views of Articles and 
Creeds are not likely to hinder you from going forward in 
your present situation ; and if, without contracting your 
usefulness, they only prove a bar to your preferment, I am 
sure it will be no grief of mind to you at the hour of death, 
or at the day of judgment, that you were enabled to follow 
the dictates of conscience, in opposition to all the pleas of 
custom or interest. Since, therefore, I have no desire of 
shaking your resolves, may we not drop this subject entirely ? 
For, indeed, I act but an awkward part in it, being by no 
means myself an admirer of Articles and Creeds, or disposed 


to be a warm advocate for Church-power. The propriety of 
our National Establishment, or of any other, is what I have 
not much to do with ; I found it as it is, nor have I influence 
to alter it, were I willing. The question in which I was 
concerned was simply, Whether I, rebus sic stantibus, could 
submit to it, so as conscientiously to take a designationTto 
the ministry under it ? I thought I could ; I accordingly did, 
and I am thankful that I never have seen cause to repent it. 

You seem gently to charge me with a want of candour in 
what I observed, or apprehended, concerning the gentlemen 
of the Feathers Tavern. If I mistake not (for I retain no 
copies of my letters), 1 expressed myself with a double re 
striction, by first saying, the leaders of that society, and then 
adding, or some of them at least. I apprehend your candour 
will hardly lead you to suppose, that there are none amongst 
them who would pull down the whole fabric (that is, I mean 
so far as it crosses the Socinian scheme), if it was left to their 
choice. I apprehend I may, without the least breach of 
candour, suppose that the exceptions which Mr. Lindsay has 
made to the Liturgy, are not peculiar to himself. It seems 
plain in his case, and from his own writings, that the mere 
removal of subscriptions, which is the immediate and 
ostensible object of the clerical petition, could not have 
satisfied him ; and it is past a doubt with me, that there 
are others of the clergy like-minded with him. Indeed, I 
could wish to be thought candid by you ; though, I confess, 
I am not a friend to that lukewarmness and indifference for 
truth, which bears the name of candour among many in the 
present day. I desire to maintain a spirit of candour and 
benevolence to all men, to wish them well, to do them every 
good office in my power, and to commend what appears to me 
commendable in a Socinian, as readily as in a Calvinist. 
But, with some people, I can only go usque ad aras. I must 
judge of principles by the word of God, and of the tree by 
its fruit. I meddle with no man s final state, because I 
know that He who is exalted to give repentance and re 
mission of sins, can do it whenever, and to whomsoever, He 
is pleased : yet I firmly believe, and I make no scruple of 
proclaiming it, that swearers, drunkards, adulterers, con 
tinuing such, cannot inherit the kingdom of God : and I 
look with no less compassion upon some persons, whose 



characters in common life may be respectable, when I see 
them unhappily blinded by their own wisdom ; and while 
they account themselves, and are accounted by many others, 
master-builders in Zion, rejecting the only foundation upon 
which a sinner s hope can be safely built. 

I am far from thinking the Socinians all hypocrites, but 
I think they are all in a most dangerous error ; nor do their 
principles exhibit to my view a whit more of the genuine 
fruits of Christianity than Deism itself. You say, " If they 
be sincere, and fail not for want of diligence in searching, I 
cannot help thinking that God will not condemn them for 
an inevitable defect in their understandings." Indeed, my 
friend, I have such a low opinion of man in his depraved state, 
that I believe no one has real sincerity in religious matters, 
till God bestows it : and when He makes a person sincere 
in his desires after truth, He will assuredly guide him to the 
possession of it in due time, as our Lord speaks, John vi. 44, 
45. To suppose that any persons can sincerely seek the 
way of salvation, and yet miss it through an inevitable 
defect of their understandings, would contradict the plain 
promises of the Gospel, such as Matt. vii. 7, 8 ; John vii. 
16, 17 ; but to suppose that things are not necessary to be 
known, because some persons, who profess sincerity, cannot 
receive them, would be, in effect, to make the Scripture a 
nose of wax, and open a wide door for scepticism. I am not 
a judge of the heart : but I may be sure, that whoever makes 
the foundation-stone a rock of offence, cannot be sincere in 
his inquiries. He may study the Scripture accurately, 
but he brings liis own preconceived sentiments with him, and, 
instead of submitting them to the touchstone of truth, he 
makes them a rule by which he interprets. That they who 
lean to their own understandings should stumble and mis 
carry, I cannot wonder ; for the same God who has promised 
to fill the hungry with good things, has threatened to send 
the rich empty away. So Matt. xi. 25. It is not through 
defect of understanding, but a want of simplicity and humil 
ity, that so many stumble, like the blind at noon-day, and 
can see nothing of those great truths which are written in 
the Gospel as with a sunbeam. 

You wish me to explain myself concerning the doctrine of 
the Trinity. I will try ; yet I know I cannot, any farther 


than as He who taught me shall be pleased to bear witness 
in your heart to what I say. My first principle in religion is 
what the Scripture teaches me of the utter depravity of 
human nature, in connexion with the spirituality and sanc 
tion of the law of God. I believe we are by nature sinners, 
by practice universally transgressors ; that we are dead in 
trespasses and sins ; and that the bent of our natural spirit 
is enmity against the holiness, government, and grace of 
God. Upon this ground, I see, feel, and acknowledge the 
necessity of such a salvation as the Gospel proposes, which, 
at the same time that it precludes boasting, and stains the 
pride of all human glory, affords encouragement to those 
who may be thought, or who may think themselves, the 
weakest or the vilest of mankind. I believe, that whatever 
notions a person may take up from education or system, no 
one ever did, or ever will, feel himself, and own himself, 
to be such a lost, miserable, hateful sinner, unless he be 
powerfully and supernaturally convinced by the Spirit 
of God. There is, when God pleases, a certain light thrown 
into the soul, which differs not merely in degree, but in 
kind, toto genere, from any thing that can be effected or 
produced by moral suasion or argument. But (to take in 
another of your queries) the Holy Spirit teaches or reveals 
no new truths, either of doctrine or precept, but only 
enables us to understand what is already revealed in the 
Scripture. Here a change takes place, the person who was 
spiritually blind begins to see. The sinner s character, as 
described in the word of God, he finds to be a description of 
himself ; that he is afar off ; a stranger, a rebel ; that he has 
hitherto lived in vain. Now he begins to see the necessity 
of an atonement, an advocate, a shepherd, a comforter : 
he can no more trust to his own wisdom, strength, and good 
ness ; but accounting all his former gain but loss, for the 
excellency of the knowledge of Christ, he renounces every 
other refuge, and ventures his all upon the person, work, and 
promise of the Redeemer. In this way, I say, he will find 
the doctrine of the Trinity not only a proposition, but a 
principle ; that is, from his own wants and situation, he will 
have an abiding conviction that the Son and Holy Spirit are 
God, and must be possessed of the attributes and powers of 
Deity, to support the offices the Scriptures assign them, and 


to deserve the confidence and worship the Scriptures require 
to be placed in them, and paid to them. Without this 
awakened state of mind, a divine, reputed orthodox, will 
blunder wretchedly, even in defending his own opinions I 
have seen laboured defences of the Trinity, which have given 
me not much more satisfaction than I should probably re 
ceive from a dissertation upon the rainbow, composed by a 
man blind from his birth. In effect, the knowledge of 
God cannot be attained by studious discussion on our parts ; 
it must be by revelation on His part, Matt. xi. 27, and xvi. 
17 ; a revelation, not objectively of new truth, but subjec 
tively of new light in us. Then he that runs may read. Per 
haps you may not quite understand my meaning, or not ac 
cede to my sentiments at present ; I have little doubt, 
however, but the time is coming when you will. I believe 
the Lord God has given you that sincerity which He never 

Far be it from me to arrogate infallibility to myself, or to 
any writer or preacher ; yet, blessed be God, I am not 
left to float up and down the uncertain tide of opinion, in 
those points wherein the peace of my soul is nearly con 
cerned. I know, yea, I infallibly know, whom I have be 
lieved. I am under no more doubt about the way of sal 
vation than of the way to London. I cannot be deceived, 
because the word of God cannot deceive me. It is im 
possible, however, for me to give you or any person full 
satisfaction concerning my evidence, because it is of an 
experimental nature (Rev. ii. 17). In general, it arises 
from the views I have received of the power, compassion, and 
grace of Jesus, and a consciousness that I, from a conviction 
of my sin and misery, have fled to Him for refuge, intrusted 
and devoted myself and my all to Him. Since my mind has 
been enlightened, every thing within me, and every thing 
around me, confirm and explain to me what I read in Scrip 
ture ; and though I have reason enough to distrust my own 
judgment every hour, yet I have no reason to question the 
great essentials which the Lord Himself hath taught me. 

Besides a long letter, I send you a great book. A part of 
it (for I do not ask you to read the whole) may, perhaps, 
explain my meaning better than I have leisure to do myself. 
I set a high value upon this book of Mr. Halyburton s ; 


so that, unless I could replace it with another, I know not if 
I would part with it for its weight in gold. The first and 
longest treatise is, in my judgment, a masterpiece ; but I 
would chiefly wish you to peruse the Essay concerning Faith, 
towards the close of the book. I need not beg you to read it 
carefully, and to read it all. The importance of the subject, 
its immediate connexion with your inquiries, and the accu 
racy of the reasoning, will render the motive of my request 
unnecessary. I cannot style him a very elegant writer ; 
and being a Scotsman, he abounds with the Scottish idiom. 
But you will prefer truth to ornament. I long to hear your 
opinion of it. It seems to me as much adapted to some things 
that have passed between us as if written on purpose. 

The Inquiry concerning Regeneration and Justification, 
which stands last in the book, I do not desire or even wish 
you to read ; but if you should, and then think that you have 
read a speculation more curious than useful, I shall not 
contradict you. I think it must appear to you in that light ; 
but it was bound up with the rest, and therefore could not 
stay behind ; but I hope the Essay on Faith will please you. 

I take great pleasure in your correspondence, and still 
more in the thought of your friendship, which I hope to 
cultivate to the utmost, and to approve myself sincerely 
and affectionately yours. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, August n, 1775. 

NEXT week I go to London, where I purpose (if nothing 
unforeseen prevents) to say a month. Many things, which 
must necessarily be attended to before my departure, abridge 
me of that leisure which I could wish to employ in answering 
your last. However, I will spare you what I can. I thank 
you for yours. Your objections neither displease nor 
weary me. While truth is the object of your inquiry, the 
more freedom you use with me the better. Nor do they 
surprise me ; for I have formerly made the like objections 
myself. I have stood upon your ground, and I continue to 


hope you will one day stand upon mine. As I have told you 
more than once, I do not mean to dictate to you, or to 
wish you to receive any thing upon my ipse dixit ; but, in 
the simplicity of friendship, I will give you my thoughts 
from time to time upon the points you propose, and leave 
the event to the divine blessing. 

I am glad you do not account the Socinians master- 
builders. However, they esteem themselves so, and arc 
so esteemed, not only by a few, (as you think,) but by many. 
I fear Socinianism spreads rapidly amongst us, and bids 
fair to be the prevailing scheme in this land, especially 
with those who profess to be the thinking part. The term 
Arminian, as at present applied, is very indiscriminate, 
and takes in a great variety of persons and sentiments, 
amongst whom, I believe, there are many who hold the funda 
mental truths of the Gospel, and live a life of faith in the 
Son of God. I am far from supposing that God will guide 
every sincere person exactly to adopt all my sentiments. 
But there are some sentiments which I believe essential to 
the very state and character of a true Christian. And these 
make him a Christian, not merely by being his acknowledged 
sentiments, but by a certain peculiar manner in which he 
possesses them. There is a certain important change 
takes place in the heart, by the operation of the Spirit of 
God, before the soundest and most orthodox sentiments can 
have their proper influence upon us. This work or change 
the Scripture describes by various names, each of which is 
designed to teach us the marvellous effects it produces, and 
the almighty power by which it is produced. It is sometimes 
called a new birth, John iii. 3 ; sometimes a new creature or 
new creation, as 2 Cor. v. 17 ; sometimes the causing light 
to shine out of darkness, 2 Cor. iv. 6 ; sometimes the opening 
the eyes of the blind, Acts xxvi. 18 ; sometimes the raising 
the dead to life, Eph. ii. 5. Till a person has experienced 
this change, he will be at a loss to form a right conception of 
it : but it means, not being proselyted to an opinion, but 
receiving a principle of divine life and light in the soul. 
And till this is received, the things of God, the truths of 
the Gospel, cannot be rightly discerned or understood by 
the utmost powers of fallen man, who, with all his wisdom, 
reason, and talents, is still but what the apostle calls the 


natural man, till the power of God visits his heart, i Cor. ii. 
14. This work is sometimes wrought suddenly, as in the 
case of Lydia, Acts xvi. 14 ; at other times very gradually. 
A person who before was a stranger even to the form of 
godliness, or at best content with a mere form finds new 
thoughts arising in his mind, feels some concern about his 
sins, some desire to please God, some suspicions that all is 
not right. He examines his views of religion, hopes the 
best of them, and yet cannot rest satisfied in them. To-day, 
perhaps, he thinks himself fixed ; to-morrow he will be all 
uncertainty. He inquires of others, weighs, measures, 
considers, meets with sentiments which he had not attended 
to, thinks them plausible ; but is presently shocked with 
objections or supposed consequences, which he finds himself 
unable to remove. As he goes on in his inquiry, his difficulties 
increase. New doubts arise in his mind ; even the Scriptures 
perplex him, and appear to assert contrary things. He 
would sound the depths of truth by the plummet of his 
reason ; but he finds his line is too -short. Yet even now the 
man is under a guidance, which will at length lead him right. 
The importance of the subject takes up his thoughts, and 
takes off the relish he once had for the things of the world. 
He reads, he prays, he strives, he resolves ; sometimes in 
ward embarrassments and outward temptations bring him 
to his wits end. He almost wishes to stand where he is, 
and inquire no more ; but he cannot stop. At length he 
begins to feel the inward depravity, which he had before 
owned as an opinion ; a sense of sin and guilt cuts him out 
new work. Here reasoning will stand him in no stead. 
This is a painful change of mind ; but it prepares the way 
for a blessing. It silences some objections better than a 
thousand arguments, it cuts the comb of his own wisdom and 
attainments, it makes him weary of working for life, and 
teaches him, in God s due time, the meaning of that text, 
To him that worketh not, but believeth in Him who justi- 
fieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." 
Then he learns, that Scriptural faith is a very different thing 
from a rational assent to the Gospel, that it is the immediate 
gift of God, Ephes. ii. 8 ; the operation of God, Col. ii. 12 ; 
that Christ is not only the object, but the author and finisher 
of faith, Heb. xii. 2 ; and that faith is not so properly a part 


of that obedience we owe to God, as an inestimable benefit 
we receive from Him for Christ s sake ; Phil. i. 29, which is 
the medium of our justification, Rom. v. i, and the principles 
by which we are united to Christ (as the branch to the vine) 
John xvii. 21. I am well aware of the pains taken to put a 
different sense upon these and other seemingly mysterious 
passages of Scripture ; but thus far we speak that which we 
know, and testify that which we have seen. I have des 
cribed a path in which I have known many led, and in which 
I have walked myself. 

The Gospel, my dear Sir, is a salvation appointed for those 
who are ready to perish, and is not designed to put them in a 
way to save themselves by their own works. It speaks to us 
as condemned already, and calls upon us to believe in a 
crucified Saviour, that we may receive redemption through 
His blood, even the forgiveness of our sins. And the Spirit 
of God, by the Gospel, first convinces us of unbelief, sin, and 
misery ; and then, by revealing the things of Jesus to our 
minds, enables us, as helpless sinners, to come to Christ, 
to receive Him, and to behold Him, or, in other words, to 
believe in Him, and expect pardon, life, and grace from Him ; 
renouncing every hope and aim in which we once rested, 
" and accounting all things loss and dung for the excellency 
of the knowledge of Christ," John vi. 35 ; Is. xlv. 22, with 
John vi. 40 ; Col. ii. 6. In some of Omicron s letters, you 
will find my thoughts more at large upon these subjects than 
I have now time to write them. For a farther illustration, 
I refer you to the MSS. sent herewith. The first part, 
written in shorthand, does not so immediately concern our 
present point as the second, which you may read without a 
key. It relates to a matter of indisputable fact, concerning a 
person with whom (as you will perceive) I was well ac 
quainted. You may depend upon the truth of every tittle. 
I intrust it to you in the confidence of friendship, and beg 
that it may not go out of your hands, and that when you 
have perused it, you will return it, sealed up, by a safe con 
veyance to my house. You will see in it the sentiments of a 
man of great learning, sound reasoning, an amiable and 
irreproachable character, and how little he accounted of all 
these advantages, when the Lord was pleased to enlighten his 


Though we have not exactly the same view of human 
depravity, yet as we both agree to take our measure of it 
from the Word of God, I trust we shall not always differ 
about it. Adam was created in the image of God, in 
righteousness and true holiness (Ephes. iv. 24). This moral 
image, I believe, was totally lost by sin. In that sense he 
died the day, the moment, he ate the forbidden fruit. God 
was no longer his joy and delight ; he was averse from the 
thoughts of His presence, and would (if possible) have hid 
himself from Him. His natural powers, though doubtless im 
paired, were not destroyed. Man, by nature, is still capable 
of great things. His understanding, reason, memory, 
imagination, &c., sufficiently proclaim that the hand that 
made him is divine. He is, as Milton says of Beelzebub, 
" majestic, though in ruins." He can reason, invent, and, 
by application, attain a considerable knowledge in natural 
things. The exertions of human genius, as specified in the 
characters of some philosophers, poets, orators, &c., are 
wonderful. But man cannot know, love, trust, or serve his 
Maker, unless he be renewed in the spirit of his mind. God 
has preserved in him, likewise, some feelings of benevolence, 
pity, some sense of natural justice and truth, &c., without 
which there could be no society : but these, I apprehend, are 
little more than instincts, by which the world is kept in some 
small degree of order ; but, being under the direction of 
pride and self, they do not deserve the name of virtue and 
goodness ; because the exercise of them does not spring from 
a principle of love to God, nor is directed to His glory, or 
regulated by the rule of His Word, till a principle of grace is 
super-added. You think, I will not say, " that God judicially, 
in punishment of one man s sin, added these corruptions 
to all his posterity." Let us suppose that the punishment 
annexed to eating the forbidden fruit had been the loss 
of Adam s rational powers, and that he should be degraded 
to the state and capacity of a brute. In this condition, 
had he begotten children after the Fall in his own likeness, 
his nature being previously changed, they must have been 
of course brutes like himself ; for he could not convey to 
them those original powers which he had lost. Will this 
illustrate my meaning ? Sin did not deprive him of ration 
ality, but of spirituality. His nature became earthly, sensual, 


yea, devilish ; and this fallen nature, this carnal mind, 
which is enmity against God, which is not subject to His 
law, neither, indeed, can be (Rom. viii. 7), we universally 
derive from him. Look upon children ; they presently show 
themselves averse from good, but exceedingly propense to 
evil. This they can learn even without a master ; but ten 
thousand instructors and instructions cannot instil good 
into them, so as to teach them to love their Creator, unless 
a divine power co-operates. Just as it is with the earth, 
which produces weeds spontaneously ; but if you only see a 
cabbage or an apple-tree, you are sure it was planted or 
sown there, and did not spring from the soil. I know many 
hard questions may be started upon this subject, but the 
Lord, in due time, will clear His own cause, and vindicate 
His own ways. I leave all difficulties with Him. It is 
sufficient for me that Scripture asserts, and experience proves 
that it is thus in fact, Rom. iii. 9-21, Job xiv. 4. Thus, 
we have not only forfeited our happiness by transgression, 
but are, by our depravity, incapable of it, and have no 
more desire or taste for such a state as the Scripture describes 
Heaven to be, than a man, born deaf, can have for a concert 
of music. And, therefore, our Lord declares, that except 
a man be born again, he not only shall not, but cannot, 
see the kingdom of God. Hence a twofold necessity of a 
Saviour His blood for the pardon of our sins His life, 
spirit, and grace to quicken our souls, and form us anew for 
Himself, that we may feel His love, and show forth His 

St. Paul, before his conversion, was not sincere in the 
sense I hope you to be : he thought himself in the right, 
without doubt, as many have done when they killed God s 
servants, John xvi. 2. He was blindly and obstinately 
zealous : I think he did not enter into the merits of the 
cause, or inquire into facts with that attention which 
sincerity would have put upon him. You think that his 
sincerity and zeal were the very things that made him a 
chosen instrument ; he himself speaks of them as the very 
things that made him peculiarly unworthy of that honour, 
i Cor. xv. 9 : and he tells us, that he was set forth as a 
pattern of the Lord s long-suffering and mercy, that the 
very chief of sinners might be encouraged, I Tim. i. 15, 16. 


Had he been sincerely desirous to know whether Jesus was 
the Messiah, there was enough in his character, doctrines, 
miracles, and the prophecies concerning Him, to have cleared 
up the point ; but he took it for granted he was right in his 
opinion, and hurried blindly on, and was (as he said himself) 
exceedingly mad against them. Such a kind of sincerity is 
common enough. People believe themselves right, and, 
therefore, treat others with scorn or rage ; appeal to the 
Scriptures, but first lay down their own pre-conceived senti 
ments for truths, and then examine what Scriptures they 
can find to countenance them. Surely a person s thinking 
himself right will not give a sanction to all that he does under 
that persuasion. 

Ignorance and obstinacy are, in themselves, sinful, and 
no plea of sincerity will exempt from the danger of being 
under their influence, Is. xxvii. n, Luke vi. 39. It appears 
to me, that though you will not follow any man implicitly, 
you are desirous of discovering your mistakes, supposing 
you are mistaken in any point of importance. You read and 
examine the word of God, not to find arms wherewith to 
defend your sentiments, at all events, but to know whether 
they are defensible or not. You pray for God s light and 
teaching, and, in this search, you are willing to risk what 
men are commonly much afraid of hazarding character, 
interest, preferment, favour, &c. A sincerity of this kind 
I too seldom meet with ; when I do, I account it a token for 
good, and am ready to say, " No man can do this, except 
God be with him." However, sincerity is not conversion ; 
but, I believe, it is always a fore-runner of it. 

I would not be uncharitable and censorious, hasty and 
peremptory, in judging my fellow-creatures. But if I 
acknowledge the word of God, I cannot avoid forming my 
judgment upon it. It is true, I cannot look into people s 
hearts ; but hearts and principles are delineated to my 
hand in the Scripture. I read, that no murderer has eternal 
life in him ; I read likewise, " If any man love not the Lord 
Jesus Christ, let him be anathema " ; and, therefore, I con 
clude, that there are speculative errors, as heinous in their 
guilt, as destructive in their effects, as murder ; and that the 
most moral regular man as to social life, if he loves not the 
Lord Jesus Christ, is, in the sight of God, the Judge of all, 


as displeasing as a murderer. It has pleased God, for the 
peace and support of society, to put a black mark upon those 
sins which affect the peace and welfare of our neighbour, 
such as adultery and murder. But, undoubtedly, the sins 
committed immediately against Himself, must be more 
heinous than any which offend our fellow-creatures. The 
second commandment, Matt. xxii. 39, is like the first ; 
but it depends upon it, and is, therefore, inferior to it. 
Men ordinarily judge otherwise. To live regardless of God 
and the Gospel is looked upon as a peccadillo, in com 
parison with offences against society. But sooner or later 
it will appear otherwise to all. A parcel of robbers may 
pique themselves upon the justice, honour, and truth they 
observe towards one another ; but because they set up a 
petty interest, which is inconsistent with the public good, they 
are deservedly accounted villains, and treated as such, 
notwithstanding their petty morality among themselves. 
Now, such a company of robbers bears a much greater pro 
portion to a whole nation, than a nation, or all the nations 
of the earth, bears to the great God. Our dependence 
upon Him is absolute, our obligations to Him infinite. In 
vain"^ shall men plead their moral discharge of relative 
duties to eacrTother, if they fail in the unspeakably greater 
relation under which they stand to God : and, therefore, 
when I see people living without God, in the world, as all 
do till they are converted, I cannot but judge them in a 
dangerous state ; not because I take pleasure in censuring, 
or think myself authorized to pass sentence upon my fellow- 
creature, but because the Scripture decides expressly on the 
case, and I am bound to take my sentiments from thence. 
The jailer was certainly a Christian when baptized, as 
you observe. He trembled ; he cried out, " What must I 
do to be saved ? " Paul did not bid him amend his life, 
but believe in the Lord Jesus. He believed and rejoiced. 
But the Lord blessed the apostle s words, to produce in 
him that saving faith, which filled him with joy and peace. 
It was, as I observed before, something more than assent to 
the proposition, that Jesus is the Christ ; a resting in Him for 
forgiveness and acceptance, and a cleaving to Him in love. 
No other faith will purify the heart, work by love, and 
overcome the world. 


I need not have pleaded want of leisure as an excuse for a 
short letter, for I have written a long one. I feel myself 
much interested in your concerns ; and your unexpected 
frank application to me (though you well know the light 
in which I appear to some people), I consider as a providen 
tial call, which binds me to your service. I hope our 
correspondence will be productive of happy effects, and that 
we shall both one day rejoice in it. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, September 6, 1775. 

I BEGIN to fear I shall fall under a suspicion of unkindness 
and forgetfulness towards you, and, therefore, I am 
willing to write a line by way of prevention, though I have 
not leisure to attempt any thing like an answer to the letter 

you put into my hand the evening before I left O ; 

I must, therefore, content myself with a tender of affection 
and respect, and an inquiry after your welfare. 

Your letter will give me an opportunity of saying some 
thing farther, when time shall admit : but an endeavour to 
answer all the objections that may be started between us, 
in a way of reasoning, would require a volume, and would, 
likewise, interfere with the leading principle upon which my 
hope of giving you satisfaction, in due time, is grounded. 
You seem to expect that I should remove your difficulties ; 
but it is my part only to throw in a word occasionally, as a 
witness of what the Lord has been pleased to teach me 
from the Scriptures, and to wait for the rest, till He (who 
alone is able) shall be pleased to communicate the same views 
to you. For till we see and judge by the same medium, and 
are agreed in the fundamental point, that faith is not the effect 
of reasoning, but a special gift of God, which He bestows 
when, and to whom, He pleases, it will not be possible 
for me to convince you by dint of argument. I believe, as 
I have observed before, that He has already given you a 
desire to know His will ; and, therefore, I trust He will not 


disappoint your search. At present, I think you want one 
thing, which it is not in my power to impart. I mean, such 
a sense of the depravity of human nature, and the state of all 
mankind considered as sinners, as may make you feel the 
utter impossibility of attaining to the peace and hope of the 
Gospel in any other way, than by renouncing all hope of 
succeeding by any endeavours of your own, further than by 
humbly waiting at the throne of grace for power to cast 
yourself, without terms and conditions, upon Him who is 
able to save to the uttermost. We must feel ourselves sick 
before we can duly prize the great Physician, and feel a 
sentence of death in ourselves, before we can effectually 
trust in God, who raiseth the dead. 

I have not brought your sermons with me, for I thought 
I should not have time to read them attentively, while in 
this hurrying place. I purpose to consider them with care, 
and to give you my thoughts with frankness, when I return. 
However, if they are upon the plan intimated in your letter, 
I will venture to say one thing beforehand that they will 
not answer your desired end. I am persuaded you wish to 
be useful to reclaim sinners from their evil ways, to inspire 
them with a love to God, and a sincere aim to walk in obedi 
ence to His will. May I not venture to appeal to yourself, 
that you meet with little success ; that the people to whom 
you preach, though they, perhaps, give you a patient hearing, 
yet remain as they were, unchanged, and unholy ? It 
must be so ; there is but one sort of preaching which God 
blesses to these purposes that which makes all the world 
guilty before God, and sets forth Jesus Christ (as the brazen 
serpent was proposed by Moses), that guilty and condemned 
sinners, by looking to Him, and believing on His name, may 
be healed and saved. The most pressing exhortations to 
repentance and amendment of life, unless they are enforced 
in a certain way, which only God can teach, will leave our 
hearers much as they find them. When we meet, or when I 
have leisure to write from home, I will trouble you with my 
thoughts more at large. Till then, permit me to assure you 
of my sincere regard, and best wishes, and that I am, &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, October 21, 1775. 

THE calls and engagements which I told you engrossed 
and anticipated my time when I wrote last, have continued 
without any intermission hitherto, and I am still far behind 
hand with my business. I am willing to hope, that the case 
has been much the same with you, and that want of leisure 
has been the only cause of my not having been pleasured 
with so much as a note from you since my return from 

I am loath, for my own sake, to charge your silence to an 
unwillingness of continuing that intercourse which I have 
been, and still find myself, desirous to improve on my part. 
For though we are not agreed in our views, yet while our 
preliminary agreement, to allow mutual freedom, and to 
exercise mutual candour, in expressing our sentiments, sub 
sists, we may, and I hope shall, be glad to hear from each 
other. It may seem to intimate I have a better opinion of 
myself than of you, that while I seem confident your freedom 
will not offend me, I feel now and then a fear, lest mine 
should prove displeasing to you. But friendship is a little 
suspicious when exercised with long silence, and a plain 
declaration of my sentiments has more than once put amiable 
and respectable persons to the full trial of their patience. 

I now return your sermons : I thank you for the perusal ; 
I see much in them that I approve, and nothing in them but 
what I formerly espoused. But in a course of years, a 
considerable alteration has taken place in my judgment and 
experience. I hope, yea, I may boldly say I am sure, not 
for the worse. Then I was seeking, and now through mercy, 
I have found the pearl of great price. It is both the prayer 
and the hope of my heart, that a day is coming when you 
shall make the same acknowledgment. From your letters 
and sermons, I am encouraged to address you in our Lord s 
words, " Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." I 
am persuaded the views you have received will not suffer you 
to remain where you are. But fidelity obliges me to add, 
Yet one thing thou lackest." " That one thing," I trust the 
Lord will both show you, and bestow upon you, in His due 
c. i 


time. You speak somewhere of " atoning for disobedience 
by repentance." Ah ! my dear sir, when we are brought to 
estimate our disobedience, by comparing it with such a 
sense of the majesty, holiness, and authority of God, and the 
spirituality, extent, and sanction of His holy law, as He, 
and He only, can impress upon the heart of a sinner, we 
shall be convinced, that nothing but the blood of the Son of 
God can atone for the smallest instance of disobedience. 

I intimated, in my letter from London, one defect of 
your scheme, which will probably be the first to engage your 
notice. I am sure you have a desire to be useful to the souls 
of men, to be an instrument of reclaiming them from that 
course of open wickedness, or lifeless formality, in which 
you see them enslaved ; and, in a word, to prevail with them 
to live soberly, righteously, and godly, according to the just 
and comprehensive sense you have given of those words, in 
your sermon on Tit. ii. n, 12. Now, inward experience, and 
a pretty extensive observation of what passes abroad, have 
so perfectly convinced me there is but one mode of preaching 
which the Holy Spirit owns to the producing these effects, 
that I am not afraid to pronounce confidently, you will not 
have the desires of your heart gratified upon your present 
plan : the people will give you a hearing, and remain just as 
they are, till the Lord leads you to speak to them as criminals 
condemned already, and whose first essential step it is, to 
seek forgiveness by the blood of Jesus, and a change of heart 
and state by His grace, before they can bring forth any fniit 
acceptable to God. 

As I have little time for writing, and little hope of succeed 
ing in a way of argumentation, I have substituted, instead of 
a longer letter, the heads of some sermons I preached 
nine or ten years ago, on our Lord s discourse with Nico- 
demus. However, when I have heard that you are well, 
and that you are still disposed to correspond with me, I 
shall be ready to give a more particular answer to the sub 
jects you pointed out to me in the letter you favoured me 
with the day before I left London. I pray God to bless you 
in all your ways, and beg you to believe, that I am with 
sincerity, &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, October 28, 1775. 

IT never entered my pericranium, that you expected 
I should fully and directly answer your letter while I was in 
London ; and yet you reasonably might, as you knew nothing 
of my engagements : but, indeed, it was impracticable ; I 
could only send you a hasty line, as a token that I remem 
bered you. I informed you, when I returned, that I was 
just going out again. Since I came home the second time, 
I have been engrossed by things that would admit of no 
delay ; and, at length, not having so much as a note from 
you, I thought I would wait till I heard farther. But from 
first to last it was my intention, and I think my promise, to 
answer in the manner you proposed, as soon as I could. And 
even now I must beg a little longer time. Believe me, that 
as the wise and good providence of God brought us together, 
without any expectation of mine, I will do all in my power 
to preserve the connexion, and particularly by giving my 
thoughts on such questions as you propose. And though, 
to consider your questions in the manner you wish, and to 
point out the agreement of detached texts (as they occur) 
with my views, seems in prospect to require a volume rather 
than a sheet, yet I am not discouraged ; only I beg you to 
make allowances for other things, and to be assured, that 
before I had the pleasure of corresponding with you, I had 
very little spare time. Expect, then, the best satisfaction 
I am able to give you, as soon as possible. To prepare the 
way, I will try hard for a little leisure, to give you a few 
thoughts upon yours, which came last night. 

You complain that I have hitherto disappointed your 
expectations. If you have preserved my first papers, I 
believe you will find, that I apprised you this might probably 
be the event, and certainly must, unless it should please God 
to make what I should write a means of giving you the same 
views with myself. I only proposed, as a witness, to bear 
a simple testimony to what I have seen and known. So far 
as you believed me sincere, and unwilling to impose upon 
you, I thought you might admit, there was perhaps some 
weight in what I had advanced, though for the present you 

I 2 


could not see things in the same light. And if you allowed a 
possibility, that my changing the sentiments which I once 
held in common with yourself, might be upon sufficient 
grounds, you would, as I trust you do, wait upon the Great 
Teacher for His instruction ; otherwise I did not expect to 
convince you, nor do I yet ; only I am glad to put myself 
in His hands as an instrument. 

You quite misunderstood what I spoke of the light and 
influence of the Spirit of God. He reveals to me no new 
truths, but has only shown me the meaning of His own 
written Word ; nor is this light a particular revelation, 
it is common to all who are born again. And thus, though 
you and I cannot fully agree about it, yet I almost daily meet 
with persons from the east, west, north, and south, who, 
though I never saw them before, I find understand me at 
once. This (as you bid me be explicit) is the one thing which 
I think you at present lack. And I limited my expression 
to one thing, because it is our Lord s expression, and because 
that one thing includes many. As I said before, I cannot 
give it you ; but the Lord can ; and from the desire He has 
raised in your heart, I have a warm hope that He will. 
You place the whole stress of your inquiries upon reason ; 
I am far from discarding reason, when it is enlightened and 
sanctified ; but spiritual things must be spiritually dis 
cerned, and can be received and discerned no other way ; 
for to our natural reason they are foolishness, i Cor. ii. 14, 
15 ; Matt. xi. 25. This certain something I can no more 
describe to those who have not experienced it, than I could 
describe the taste of a pine-apple to a person who had never 
seen one. But Scriptural proofs might be adduced in 
abundance, yet not so as to give a solid conviction of it, 
till we actually experience it. Thus it was with my friend 
whose case I sent you. When God gave him the key, 
(as he expressed it,) then the Scriptures were unlocked. 
His wishing himself a Deist, some time before, was not from 
any libertine exceptions he made to the precepts of the 
Gospel, but from the perplexing embarrassments he had 
found, by endeavouring to understand the doctrines by dint 
of reason, though reason in him was as strong and penetrating 
as in most men I ever met with. Upon your present plan, 
how can I hope to satisfy you, though 2ven St. Paul asserts 


it, that the carnal mind is enmity against God ? you will 
readily agree with me to the proposition as it stands in 
St. Paul s words, but I think will not so readily assent to 
what I have no more doubt than of my own existence, is 
the sense of it : that the heart of man, of any man, every 
man, however apparently amiable in his outward conduct, 
however benevolent to his fellow-creatures, however abund 
ant and zealous in his devotions, is by nature enmity against 
God : not, indeed, against the idea he himself forms of God, 
but against the character which God has revealed of Himself 
in the Scripture. Man is an enemy to the justice, sovereign 
ty, and law of God, and to the one method of salvation He 
has appointed in the Gospel by faith only, by such a faith, as 
it is no more in his power to contribute to the production of 
in himself, than he can contribute to raising the dead, or 
making a world. Whatever is of the flesh is flesh, and 
can rise no higher than its principle ; but the Lord could 
convince you of this by a glance of thought. 

But I must break off, for want both of room and time. 
Let me remind you of our agreement, to use and to allow 
the greatest freedom, and not to be offended with what is 
meant well on either side. Something in your last letter 
made me apprehensive you were a little displeased with me. 
He that knows my heart, knows that I wish you well as 
my own soul. 

The expression, of atoning for disobedience by repentance, 
was in one of your sermons. I considered it as unguarded ; 
but, on my view of things, it were in a manner impossible 
I could use that expression, though perhaps too often 
unguarded myself. I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, November 17, 1775. 

AT length I take up your favour of August 14, with 
design to give a more explicit answer. My delaying hitherto 
has been unavoidable. I am sorry to have your patience 
put to so long a trial, and should be more sorry, but that I 


consider, that in my former papers, sermons, Omicron s 
letters, &c., you already possess the whole (in substance) of 
what I have to offer. My present part is but actuni agere, 
to repeat what I have elsewhere expressed, only with some 
variety and enlargement. You yourself well state the situa 
tion of our debate, when you say, " Nor in truth do you offer 
any arguments to convince me, nor does it seem very consistent 
on your grounds so to do. And if this important change is 
to be brought about by the intervention of some extraordin 
ary impulse of the Holy Spirit, and cannot be brought about 
without it, I do not see any thing farther that I have to do, 
than to keep my mind as much unbiassed as I can, and to 
wait and pray for it." I think my letter from London was 
to the purport of these your own words, though you seem 
dissatisfied with it. While we see through a different 
medium, it will be easy for you to answer every text I 
might adduce in support of my sentiments, as you have 
those I have already brought, " That you understand them 
otherwise." In order to support my sense of one text, I 
should perhaps quote and argue from twenty more, and still 
" You would understand them otherwise." The life of man, 
yea, of Methuselah, would hardly suffice to prove, object, 
and defend all that might be alleged on both sides in this 
way ; and at last we should leave off as we began, more 
fully confirmed in our own opinions, unless the Lord by His 
Holy Spirit should be pleased to show the person who main 
tained the wrong side of the argument where his mistake lay. 
However, I mean to take some notice of your queries as they 
offer themselves. 

The first which occurs is complicated. The substance, 
I think, is, whether such belief and aims as you possess will 
stand you in no stead, unless you, likewise, believe grace 
irresistible, predestination absolute, faith in supernatural 
impulses, &c. ? You may have observed, I have several 
times waived speaking about predestination or election,- 
not that I am ashamed of the doctrine ; because, if it be 
indeed absurd, shocking, and unjust, the blame will not 
deservedly fall upon me, for I did not invent it, but upon the 
Scriptures, where I am sure, it is laid down in as plain terms 
as that God created the heavens and the earth. I own I 
cannot but wonder, that persons professing any reverence 


for the Bible, should so openly and strongly declare their 
abhorrence of what the Bible so expressly teaches, namely, 
that there is a discrimination of persons by the grace and 
good pleasure of God, where by nature there is no difference ; 
and that all things respecting the salvation of these persons, 
is infallibly secured by a Divine predestination. 

I do not offer this as a rational doctrine, (though it be 
highly so to me,) but it is Scriptural, or else the Scripture is 
a mere nose of wax, and without a determinate meaning. 
What ingenuity is needful to interpret many passages in a 
sense more favourable to our natural prejudices against 
God s sovereignty ! Matt. xi. 25, 26, and xiii. 10-17 ; 
Mark xiii. 20, 22 ; John xvii. passim ; John x. 26 ; Rom. 
viii. 28-30, and ix. 13-24, and xi. 7 ; Eph. i. 4, 5 ; I Pet. 
i. 2. Were I fond of disputing, as I am not, I think I could 
put a close reasoner hard to it, to maintain the truth of 
Scripture-prophecies, or the belief of a particular Providence, 
unless he would admit a Divine predestination of causes 
and events as the ground of his arguments. However, as I 
said, I have chosen to waive the point ; because, however 
true and necessary in itself, the knowledge and compre 
hension of it is not necessary to the being of a true Christian, 
though I can hardly conceive he can be an established con 
sistent believer without it. This doctrine is not the turning 
point between you and me ; the nature of justification, and 
the method of a sinner s acceptance with God, are of 
much more immediate importance ; and, therefore, if I 
am to speak plainly, I must say, that I look upon your pre 
sent sentiments, attainments, and advances, as you describe 
them, to constitute that kind of gain the apostle speaks of, 
and concerning which I hope you will one day be of his 
mind, and be glad to account it all loss, that you may win 
Christ, and be found in Him, " not having your own righteous 
ness, which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of 
God by faith," Phil. Hi. 4, 7-10. For, as you tell me, you 
never remember a time when you were not conscious, before 
God, of great unworthiness, and intervals of earnest en 
deavours to serve Him, though not with the same success, 
yet something in the same way as at present : this is but 
saying, in other words, you never remember a time when 
old things passed away, and all things became new ; and yet 


the apostle insists much upon this, 2 Cor. iv. 6, and v. 17. 
The convictions of natural conscience, and those which are 
wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, are different, not 
only in degree, but in kind ; the light of a glowworm and of 
the sun do not more essentially differ. The former are 
partial and superficial, leave us in possession of a supposed 
power of our own, are pacified by some appearances of an 
outward change, and make us no farther sensible of the 
necessity of a Saviour, than to make our doings and duties 
(if I may so express myself) full weight, which, perhaps, 
might otherwise be a little deficient, when brought to the 
balances of the sanctuary. But truly spiritual convictions 
give us far other views of sin ; they lead us to a deep and 
awful consideration of the root, our total absolute depravity, 
and our utter apostacy from God, by which we are incapable 
of doing good, as a dead man is of performing the functions 
of life. They lead us to the rule and standard, the strict, 
holy, inflexible law of God, which reaches to the thoughts 
and intents of the heart ; requires perfect, universal, per 
severing, obedience ; denounces a curse upon every failure, 
Gal. iii. 10 ; and affords neither place nor strength for re 
pentance. Thus they sweep away every hope and refuge 
we had before, and fix upon us a sense of guilt and con 
demnation, from which there is no relief, till we can look to 
Jesus, as the wounded Israelite did to the brazen serpent ; 
which was not to give efficacy to medicines and plasters of 
their own application, but to heal them completely of itself, 
by looking at it, John iii. 14, 15, and vi. 40 ; Isaiah xliii. 22. 
You wish me to explain my distinction between faith and 
rational assent ; and though I know no two things in the 
world more clearly distinct in themselves, or more expressly 
distinguished in Scripture, yet, I fear, I may not easily 
make it appear to you. You allow faith, in your sense, to 
be the gift of God ; but, in my sense, it is, likewise, wrought 
by the operation of God, Col. ii. 12, TO virfpGaX 

< ci up (iir avrov *:oro rr\v u-tpytHtv TOV kptirovf r>jc 

that same energy of the power of His strength, by which the 
dead body of Jesus was raised from the dead. Can these 
strong expressions intend no more than a rational assent, 

* Ephes. i. 19. 


such as we give to a proposition in Euclid ? I believe fallen 
reason is, of itself, utterly incapable even of assenting to the 
great truths of revelation ; it may assent to the terms in 
which they are proposed, but it must put its own inter 
pretation upon them, or it would despise them. The natural 
man can neither receive nor discern the things of God : 
and if any one would be wise, the apostle s first advice to 
him is, Let him become a fool, that he may be wise ; for the 
wisdom of the world is foolislmess with God. 

Indeed, when the heart is changed, and the mind enlight 
ened, then reason is sanctified, and, if I may so say, bap 
tized, renounces its curious disquisitions, and is content 
humbly to tread in the path of revelation. This is one 
difference ; assent may be the act of our natural reason ; 
faith is the effect of immediate almighty power. Another 
difference is, faith is always efficacious, " it worketh by love " ; 
whereas assent is often given where it has little or no influ 
ence upon the conduct. Thus, for instance, every one will 
assent to this truth, all men are mortal. Yet the greatest 
part of mankind, though they readily assent to the proposi 
tion, and it would be higlily irrational to do otherwise, yet 
live as they might do if the reverse were true. But they 
who have Divine faith, feel, as well as say, they are pilgrims 
and sojourners upon earth. Again, faith gives peace of 
conscience, access to God, and a sure evidence and subsistence 
of things not seen, Rom. v. I, 2 ; Heb. xi. I ; whereas, a 
calm, dispassionate reasoner may be compelled to assent to 
the external arguments in favour of Christianity, and yet 
remain a total stranger to that communion with God, that 
spirit of adoption, that foretaste of glory, which is the 
privilege and portion of believers. So, likewise, faith over 
comes the world, which rational assent will not do. Witness 
the lives and tempers of thousands, who yet would be 
affronted if their assent to the Gospel should be questioned. 
To sum up all in a word, " He that believes shall be saved." 
But surely many, who give a rational assent to the Gospel, 
live and die in those sins which exclude from the kingdom of 
God, Gal. v. 19 21. Faith is the effect of a principle of 
new life implanted in the soul that was before dead in tres 
passes and sins ; and it qualifies not only for obeying the 
Saviour s precepts, but chiefly and primarily for receiving 


from, and rejoicing in, His fullness, admiring His love, His 
work, His person, His glory, His advocacy. It makes 
Christ precious, enthrones Him in the heart, presents Him 
as the most delightful object to our meditations ; as our 
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and strength ; our 
Root, Head, Life, Shepherd, and Husband. These are all 
Scriptural expressions and images, setting forth, so far as 
words can declare, what Jesus is in Himself and to His be- 
ieving people. But how cold is the comment which rational 
assent puts upon very many passages wherein the apostle 
Paul endeavours (but in vain) to express the fullness of his 
heart upon this subject ! A most valued friend of mine, 
a clergyman, now living, had, for many years, given a rational 
assent to the Gospel. He laboured with much earnestness 
upon your plan, was very exemplary in his whole conduct, 
preached almost incessantly, (two or three times every day 
in the week, for years,) having a parish in the remote parts 
of Yorkshire, of great extent, and containing five or six 
different hamlets at some distance from each other. He 
succeeded, likewise, with his people, so far as to break them 
off from outward irregularities ; and was mentioned in a 
letter to the Society for Propagating the Gospel (which I have 
seen in print) as the most perfect example of a parish-priest 
which this nation, or, perhaps, this age, has produced. 
Thus he went on, for many years, teaching his people what 
he knew, for he could teach them no more. He lived in 
such retirement and recess, that he was unacquainted with 
the persons and principles of any who are now branded as 
enthusiasts and Methodists. One day, reading Eph. iii. 
in his Greek Testament, his thoughts were stopped by 
the word avtl^viaaTov, in verse 8. He was struck, and 
led to think with himself to this purpose ; " The apostle, 
when speaking of the love and riches of Christ, uses re 
markable expressions ; he speaks of heights, depths, and 
lengths, and breadths, and unsearchables, where I seem to 
find every thing plain, easy, and rational. He finds myster 
ies where I can perceive none. Surely, though I use the 
words Gospel, faith, and grace with him, my ideas of them 
must be different from his." This led him to a close exami 
nation of all his epistles, and, by the blessing of God, 
brought on a total change in his views and preaching. He 


no longer set his people to keep a law of faith, to trust in 
their sincerity and endeavours, upon some general hope that 
Christ would help them out where they came short ; but he 
preached Christ Himself, as the end of the law for righteous 
ness to every one that believeth. He felt himself, and 
laboured to convince others, that there is no hope for a sinner, 
but merely in the blood of Jesus, and no possibility of his 
doing any works acceptable to God, till he himself be first 
made accepted in the Beloved. Nor did he labour in vain. 
Now his preaching effected not only an outward reformation, 
but a real change of heart in very many of his hearers. The 
word was received, as Paul expresses it, not with a rational 
assent only, but with demonstration, and power in the Holy 
Ghost, and in much assurance ; and their endeavours to 
observe the Gospel-precepts were abundantly more exten 
sive, uniform, and successful, when they were brought to 
say with the apostle, " I am crucified with Christ : never 
theless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ; and the 
life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God." 

Such a change of views and sentiments I pray God my 
friend may experience. These things may appear uncouth 
to you at present, as they have done to many, who now bless 
God for showing them what their reason could never have 
taught them. My divinity is unfashionable enough at 
present, but it was not so always ; you will find few 
books written from the era of the Reformation, till a little 
before Laud s time, that set forth any other. There were 
few pulpits, till after the Restoration, from which any other 
was heard. A lamentable change has, indeed, since taken 
place ; but God has not left himself without witnesses. You 
think, though I disclaim infallibility, I arrogate too much in 
speaking with so much certainty. I am fallible indeed ; 
but I am sure of the main points of doctrine I hold. I am 
not in the least doubt, whether salvation be of faith or of 
works ; whether faith be of our own power, or of God s 
operation ; whether Christ s obedience, or our own, be the 
just ground of our hope ; whether a man can truly call 
Jesus Lord, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost. I have 
no more hesitation about these points than I should have, 
were I asked, Whether it was God or man who created the 
heavens and the earth ? Besides, ns T hove more than once 


observed, your sentiments were once my own ; so that I, 
who have travelled both roads, may have, perhaps, some 
stronger reasons to determine me which is the right, than 
you can have who have only travelled one. 

Your two sheets may lead me to write as many quires, 
if I do not check myself. I now come to the two queries 
you propose, the solution of which, you think, will clearly 
mark the difference of our sentiments. The substance of 
them is, is/, Whether I think any sinner ever perished in 
his shis, (to whom the Gospel has been preached,) because 
God refused to supply him with such a proportion of His 
assistance as was absolutely necessary to his believing and 
repenting, or without his having previously rejected the in 
citements of his Holy Spirit ? A full answer to this would 
require a sheet. But briefly, I believe that all mankind 
being corrupt and guilty before God, He might, without 
impeachment to His justice, have left them all to perish, 
as we are assured He did the fallen angels. But He was 
pleased to show mercy, and mercy must be free. If the 
sinner has any claim to it, so far it is justice, not mercy. He 
who is to be our Judge assures us, that few find the gate 
that leadeth to life, while many throng the road to destruc 
tion. Your question seems to imply, that you think God 
either did make salvation equally open to all, or that it would 
have been more becoming His goodness to have done so. 

But He is the potter, we are the clay : His ways and 
thoughts are above ours, as the heavens are higher than the 
earth. The Judge of all the earth will do right. He has 
appointed a day when He will manifest, to the conviction 
of all, that he has done right. Till then, I hold it best to take 
things upon His word, and not too harshly determine what 
it becomes Jehovah to do. Instead of saying what I think, 
let it suffice to remind you of what St. Paul thought, Rom. 
ix. 15-21. But farther, I say, that unless mercy were 
afforded to those who are saved, in a way peculiar to them 
selves, and which is not afforded to those who perish, I 
believe no one soul could be saved. For I believe fallen 
man, universally considered as such, is as incapable of 
doing the least thing towards his salvation, till prevented 
by the grace of God, (as our Article speaks,) as a dead body 
is of restoring itself to life. Whatever difference takes 


place between men, in this respect, is of grace, that is of 
God, undeserved. Yea, His first approaches to our hearts 
are undesired too ; for, till He seeks us, we cannot, we will 
not, seek Him, Psalm ex. 3. It is in the day of His power, 
and not before, His people are made willing. But, I believe, 
where the Gospel is preached, they who do perish do wil 
fully resist the light, and choose and cleave to darkness, 
and stifle the convictions which the truths of God, when 
His true Gospel is, indeed, preached, will, in one degree or 
other, force upon their minds. The cares of this world, the 
deceitfulness of riches, the love of other things, the violence 
of sinful appetites, their prejudices, pride, and self-righteous 
ness, either prevent the reception or choke the growth of the 
good seed : thus their own sin and obstinacy is the proper 
cause of their destruction : they will not come to Christ 
that they may have life. At the same time, it is true that 
they cannot, unless they are supernaturally drawn of God, 
John v. 40 ; vi. 44. They will not, and they cannot, come. 
Both are equally true, and they are consistent. For a 
man s cannot is not a natural, but a moral inability ; not an 
impossibility in the nature of things, as it is for me to walk 
upon the water, or to fly in the air ; but such an inability, 
as, instead of extenuating, does exceedingly enhance and 
aggravate his guilt. He is so blinded by Satan, so alienated 
from God by nature and wicked works, so given up to sin, so 
averse from that way of salvation, which is contrary to 
his pride and natural wisdom, that he will not embrace it, or 
seek after it ; and, therefore, he cannot, till the grace of 
God powerfully enlightens his mind, and overcomes his 
obstacles. But this brings me to your second query. 

Do I think that God, in the ordinary course of His 
providence, grants this assistance in an irresistible manner, 
or effects faith and conversion without the sinner s own 
hearty consent and concurrence ? I rather choose to term 
grace invincible than irresistible : For it is too often re 
sisted even by those who believe ; but because it is invincible, 
it triumphs over all resistance, when He is pleased to bestow 
it. For the rest, I believe no sinner is converted without his 
own hearty will and concurrence. But he is not willing till 
he is made so. Why does he at all refuse ? Because he is 
insensible of his state ; because he knows not the evil of 


sin, the strictness of the law, the majesty of God whom he 
has offended, nor the total apostacy of his heart ; because he 
is blind to eternity, and ignorant of the excellency of 
Christ ; because he is comparatively whole, and sees not his 
need of tliis great Physician ; because he relies upon his own 
wisdom, power, and supposed righteousness. Now, in this 
state of things, when God comes with a purpose of mercy, he 
begins by convincing the person of sin, judgment, and 
righteousness ; causes him to feel and know that he is a 
lost, condemned, helpless creature, and then discovers to 
him the necessity, sufficiency, and willingness of Christ to 
save them that are ready to perish, without money or price, 
without doings or deservings. Then he sees faith to be very 
different from a rational assent, finds that nothing but the 
power of God can produce a well-grounded hope in the heart 
of a convinced sinner ; therefore looks to Jesus, who is the 
author and finisher of faith, to enable him to believe. For 
this he waits in what we call the means of grace ; he prays, 
he reads the word, he thirsts for God, as the hart pants for 
the water-brooks ; and though perhaps for a while he is 
distressed with many doubts and fears, he is encouraged 
to wait on, because Jesus has said, " Him that cometh unto 
Me, I will in no wise cast out." The obstinacy of the will 
remains while the understanding is dark, and ceases when 
that is enlightened. Suppose a man walking in the dark, 
where there are pits and precipices of which he is not aware : 
you are sensible of his danger, and call after him ; but he 
thinks he knows better than you, refuses your advice, and 
is perhaps angry with you for your importunity. He sees 
no danger, therefore will not be persuaded there is any : 
but if you go with a light, get before him, and show him 
plainly, that if he takes another step he falls beyond the 
power of recovery ; then he will stop of his own accord, 
blame himself for not minding you before, and be ready to 
comply with your farther directions. In either case man s 
will acts with equal freedom ; the difference of his conduct 
arises from conviction. Something like this is the case of 
our spiritual concerns. Sinners are called and warned by 
the Word ; but they are wise in their own eyes, and take 
but little notice till the Lord gives them light, which He is 
not bound to give to any, and therefore cannot be bound to 


give to all. They who have it, have reason to be thankful, 
and subscribe to the apostle s words, " By grace are ye 
saved, through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the 
gift of God." 

I have not yet half done with the first sheet ; shall 
consider the rest at leisure, but send this as a specimen of 
my willingness to clear my sentiments to you as far as I can. 
Unless it should please God to make what I offer satisfactory, 
I well know beforehand what objections and answers will 
occur to you ; for these points have been often debated ; 
and after a course of twenty-seven years, in which religion 
has been the chief object of my thoughts and inquiries, I 
am not entirely a stranger to what can be offered on either 
side. What I write, I write simply and in love ; beseeching 
Him, who alone can set a seal to His own truth, to guide 
you and bless you. This letter has been more than a week 
in hand ; I have been called from it I suppose ten times, 
frequently in the middle of a period or a line. My leisure, 
which before was small, is now reduced almost to a nothing. 
But I am desirous to keep up my correspondence with you, 
because I feel an affectionate interest in you, and because it 
pleased God to put it into your heart to apply to me. You 
cannot think how your first letter struck me : it was so un 
expected, and seemed so improbable that you should open 
your mind to me, I immediately conceived a hope that it 
would prove for good. Nor am I yet discouraged. 

When you have leisure and inclination, write ; I shall 
always be glad to hear from you, and I will proceed in 
answering what I have already by me, as fast as I can. But 
I have many letters now waiting for answers, which must 
be attended to. 

I recommend you to the blessing and care of the great 
Shepherd ; and remain, &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, December 8, 1775. 

ARE you willing I should still call you so, or are you 
quite weary of me ? Your silence makes me suspect thr 
latter. However, it is my part to fulfil my promise, and 
then leave the event to God. As I have but an imperfect 
remembrance of what I have already written, I may be 
liable to some repetitions. I cannot stay to comment upon 
every line in your letter, but I proceed to notice such passages 
as seem most to affect the subject in debate. When you 
speak of the Scriptures maintaining one consistent sense, 
which, if the Word of God, it certainly must do, you say you 
read and understand it in this one consistent sense ; nay, 
you cannot remember the time when you did not. It is 
otherwise with me and with multitudes ; we remember when 
it was a sealed book, and we are sure it would have been so 
still, had not the Holy Spirit opened our understandings. 
But when you add, though I pretend not to understand the 
whole, yet what I do understand appears perfectly consistent, 
I know not how far this exception may extend ; for perhaps 
the reason why you allow you do not understand some parts, 
is because you cannot make them consistent with the sense 
you put upon other parts. You quote my words, " That 
when we are conscious of our depravity, reasoning stands 
us in no stead." Undoubtedly reason always will stand 
rational creatures in some stead ; but my meaning is, that 
when we are deeply convinced of sin, all our former reasonings 
upon the ways of God, while we make our conceptions 
the standard by which we judge what is befitting Him 
to do, as if He were altogether such an one as ourselves 
all those cobweb reasonings are swept away, and we submit 
to His avrof t<f>t) without reasoning, though not without 
reason. For we have the strongest reason imaginable to 
acknowledge ourselves vile and lost, without righteousness 
and strength, when we actually feel ourselves to be so. 
You speak of the Gospel term of justification. This term is 
faith, Mark xvi. 16 ; Acts xiii. 39. The Gospel propounds, 
admits no other term. But this faith, as I endeavoured to 
show in my former letter, is very different from rational 


assent. You speak likewise of the law of faith, by which, 
if you mean what some call the remedial law, which we are 
to obey as well as we can, and such obedience, together 
with our faith, will entitle us to acceptance with God, 
I am persuaded the Scripture speaks of no such thing. Grace 
and works of any kind, in the point of acceptance with God, 
are mentioned by the apostle not only as opposites or con 
traries, but as absolutely contradictory to each other, 
like fire and water, light and darkness ; so that the affirma 
tion of one is the denial of the other, Rom. iv. 5, and xi. 6. 
God justifies freely, justifies the ungodly, and him that 
worketh not. Though justifying faith be indeed an active 
principle, it worketh by love, yet not for acceptance. Those 
whom the apostle exhorts to work out their own salvation 
with " fear and trembling," he considers as justified already ; 
for he considers them as believers, in whom he supposed God 
had already begun a good work ; and if so, was confident 
he would accomplish it (Phil. i. 6). To them, the con 
sideration that God (who dwells in the hearts of believers) 
wrought in them to will and to do, was a powerful motive and 
encouragement to them to work, that is, to give all diligence 
to His appointed means ; as a right sense of the sin that 
dwelleth in us, and the snares and temptations around us, 
will teach us still to work with fear and trembling. You 
suppose a difference between Christians (so called) who are 
devoted to God in baptism, and those who in the first ages 
were converted from abominable superstitions and idolatrous 
vices. It is true, in Christian countries we do not worship 
heathen divinities eo nomine. And this is the principal 
difference I can find. Neither reason nor observation will 
allow me to think, that human nature is a whit better 
now than it was in the apostle s time. I know no kinds or 
degrees of wickedness which prevailed among heathens, 
which are not prevalent among nominal Christians, who have 
perhaps been baptized in their infancy ; and, therefore, as 
the streams in the life are equally worldly, sensual, devilish, 
I doubt not but the fountain of the heart is equally polluted 
and poisonous ; and that it is as true as it was in the days of 
Christ and His apostles, that unless a man be born again, he 
cannot see the kingdom of God. You sent me a sermon 
upon the new birth, or regeneration, and you have several of 
c. K 


mine on the same subject. I wish you to compare them with 
each other, and with the Scripture ; and I pray God to show 
you wherein the difference consists, and on which side the 
truth lies. 

When you desire me to reconcile God s being the author 
of sin with His justice, you show that you misunderstand 
the whole strain of my sentiments ; for I am persuaded you 
would not misrepresent them. It is easy to charge harsh 
consequences, which I neither allow, nor, indeed, do they 
follow from my sentiments. God cannot be the author of 
sin in that sense you would fix upon me : but is it possible 
that, upon your plan, you find no difficulty in what the 
Scripture teaches us upon this subject ? I conceive that 
those who were concerned in the death of Christ were very 
great sinners ; and that, in nailing Him to the cross, they 
committed atrocious wickedness : yet, if the apostle may be 
believed, all this was according to the determinate counsel 
and foreknowledge of God, Acts ii. 28 ; and they did no 
more than what His hand and purpose had determined 
should be done, chap. iv. 28. And, you will observe, that 
this wicked act (wicked with respect to the perpetrators) 
was not only permitted, but foreordained in the strongest 
and most absolute sense of the word : the glory of God, and 
the salvation of men depended upon its being done, and 
just in that manner, and with all those circumstances, which 
actually took place ; and yet Judas and the rest acted 
freely, and their wickedness was properly their own. Now, 
my friend, the arguments which satisfy you, that the Scrip 
ture does not present God as the author of this sin, in this 
appointment, will plead for me at the same time ; and when 
you think you easily overcome me by asking, " Can God 
be the author of sin ? " your imputation falls as directly upon 
the Word of God Himself. God is no more the author of 
sin, than the sun is the cause of ice ; but it is in the nature 
of water to congeal into ice, when the sun s influence is 
suspended to a certain degree. So there is sin enough in 
the hearts of men to make the earth the very image of hell, 
and to prove that men are no better than incarnate devils 
were He to suspend His influence and restraint. Sometimes, 
and, in some instances, He is pleased to suspend it consider 
ably ; and, so far as He does, human nature quickly appears 


in its true colours. Objections of this kind have been re 
peated and refuted before either you or I were born ; and 
the apostle evidently supposes they would be urged against 
His doctrine, when he obviates the question, Why doth He 
yet find fault ? who hath resisted His will ? To which he 
gives no other answer than by referring it to God s sover 
eignty and the power which a potter has over the clay. I 
think I have, in a former letter, made some reply to the 
charge of positiveness in my own opinion. I acknowledge 
that I am fallible ; yet I must again lay claim to a certainty 
about the way of salvation. I am as sure of some things as 
of my own existence ; I should be so, if there was no human 
creature upon earth but myself. However, my sentiments 
are confirmed by the suffrages of thousands who have lived 
before me, of many with whom I have personally conversed 
in different places and circumstances, unknown to each 
other ; yet all have received the same views, because taught 
by the same Spirit. And I have, likewise, been greatly 
confirmed by the testimony of many with whom I have 
conversed in their dying hours. I have seen them rejoicing 
in the prospect of death, free from fears, breathing the air 
of immortality : heartily disclaiming their duties and per 
formances ; acknowledging that their best actions were 
attended with evil sufficient to condemn them : renouncing 
every shadow of hope, but what they derived from the blood 
of Christ, as the sole cause of their acceptance ; yet triumph 
ing in Him over every enemy and fear, and as sure of Heaven 
as if they were already there. And such were the apostle s 
hopes, wholly founded on knowing whom He had believed, 
and his persuasion of His ability to keep that which he had 
committed unto Him. This is faith ; a renouncing of every 
thing we are apt to call our own, and relying wholly upon the 
blood, righteousness, and intercession of Jesus. However, 
I cannot communicate this my certainty to you ; I only tell 
you there is such a thing, in hopes, if you do not think I 
wilfully lie both to God and man, you will be earnest to seek 
it from Him, who bestowed it on me, and who will bestow 
it upon all who will sincerely apply to Him, and patiently 
wait upon Him for it. 

I cannot but wonder, that while you profess to believe 
the depravity of human nature, you should speak of good 

K 2 


qualities inherent in it. The word of God describes it as 
evil, only evil, and that continually. That there are such 
qualities as stoics and infidels call virtue, I allow. God has 
not left man destitute of such dispositions as are necessary 
to the peace of society ; but I deny there is any moral 
goodness in them, unless they are founded in a supreme 
love to God, have His glory for their aim, and are produced 
by faith in Jesus Christ. A man may give all his goods to 
feed the poor, and his body to be burned, in zeal for the truth, 
and yet be a mere nothing, a tinkling cymbal, in the sight of 
Him who seeth, not as man seeth, but judgeth the heart. 
Many infidels and avowed enemies to the grace and Gospel 
of Christ, have made a fair show of what the world calls 
virtue, but Christian virtue is grace , the effect of a new nature 
and new life ; and works thus wrought in God, are as differ 
ent from the faint partial imitations of them which fallen 
nature is capable of producing, as a living man is from a 
statue. A statue may express the features and lineaments 
of the person whom it represents, but there is no life. 

Your comment on the seventh to the Romans, latter part, 
contradicts my feelings. You are either of a different 
make and nature from me, or else you are not rightly ap 
prised of your own state, if you do not find the apostle s 
complaint very suitable to yourself. I believe it applicable 
to the most holy Christian upon earth. But controversies 
of this kind are worn thread-bare. When you speak of the 
spiritual part of a natural man, it sounds to me like the living 
part of a dead man, or the seeing part of a blind man. Paul 
tells me, that the natural man (whatever his spiritual part 
may be) can neither receive nor discern the things of God. 
What the apostle speaks of himself, Rom. vii. is no more, 
when rightly understood, than what he affirms of all who are 
partakers of a spiritual life, or who are true believers, Gal. 
v. 17. The carnal natural mind is enmity against God, not 
subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. When 
you subjoin, " Till it be set at liberty from the law of sin," 
you do not comment upon the text, but make an addition 
of your own, which the text will by no means bear. The 
carnal mind is enmity. An enemy may be reconciled : but 
enmity itself is incurable. This carnal mind, natural man, 
old man, flesh, for the expressions are all equivalent, and 


denote, and include, the heart of man as he is by nature, may 
be crucified, must be mortified, but cannot be sanctified. 
All that is good or gracious is the effect of a new creation, 
a supernatural principle, wrought in the heart by the 
Gospel of Christ, and the agency of His Spirit ; and till 
that is effected, the TO v^ijXor, the highest attainment, the 
finest qualifications in man, however they may exalt him 
in his own eyes, or recommend him to the notice of his 
fellow-worms, are but abomination in the sight of God, Luke 
xvi. 15. The Gospel is calculated and designed to stain the 
pride of human glory. It is provided, not for the wise and 
the righteous, for those who think they have good disposi 
tions and good works, to plead, but for the guilty, the help 
less, the wretched, for those who are ready to perish ; it 
fills the hungry with good things, but it sends the rich empty 
away. See Rev. iii. 17, 18. 

You ask, If man can do nothing without an extraordinary 
impulse from on high, is he to sit still and careless ? By 
no means : I am far from saying, Man can do nothing, 
though I believe he cannot open his own eyes, or give himself 
faith. I wish every man to abstain carefully from sinful 
company and sinful actions, to read the Bible, to pray to 
God for His heavenly teaching. For this waiting upon God 
he has a moral ability ; and, if he persevere thus in seeking, 
the promise is sure, that he shall not seek in vain. But I 
would not have him mistake the means for the end ; think 
himself good because he is preserved from gross vices and 
follies, or trust to his religious course of duties for acceptance, 
nor be satisfied till Christ be revealed in him, formed within 
him, dwell in his heart by faith, and till he can say, upon 
good grounds, " I am crucified with Christ : nevertheless I 
live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." I need not tell you 
these are Scriptural expressions ; I am persuaded, if they 
were not, they would be exploded by many as unintelligible 
jargon. True faith, my dear Sir, unites the soul to Christ, 
and thereby gives access to God, and fills it with a peace 
passing understanding, a hope, a joy unspeakable, and full of 
glory ; teaches us that we are weak in ourselves, but enables 
us to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might 
To those who thus believe, Christ is precious their beloved , 
they hear and know His voice ; the very sound of His name 


gladdens their hearts, and He manifests Himself to them as He 
does not to the world. Thus the Scriptures speak, thus the first 
Christians experienced ; and this is precisely the language 
which, in our days, is despised as enthusiasm and folly. 
For it is now as it was then ; though these things are revealed 
to babes, and they are as sure of them as that they see the 
noon-day sun, they are hidden from the wise and prudent, 
till the Lord makes them willing to renounce their own wis 
dom, and to become fools, that they may be truly wise, i 
Cor. i. 18, 19 ; iii. 8 ; viii. 2. Attention to the education of 
children is an undoubted duty ; and it is a mercy when it 
so far succeeds as to preserve them from gross wickedness ; 
but it will not change the heart. They who receive Christ 
are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of 
the will of man, but of God, John i. 13. 

If a man professes to love the Lord Jesus, I am willing to 
believe him, if he does not give me proof to the contrary ; 
but I am sure, at the same time, no one can love Him in the 
Scriptural sense, who does not know the need and the worth 
of a Saviour ; in other words, who is not brought, as a 
ruined, helpless sinner, to live upon Him for wisdom, right 
eousness, sanctification, and redemption. They who love 
Him thus, will speak highly of Him, and acknowledge that 
He is their all in all. And they who thus love Him, and 
speak of Him, will get little thanks for their pains in such a 
world as this : " All that live godly in Christ Jesus must 
suffer persecution : the world that hated Him will hate 
them." And though it is possible, by His grace, to put to 
silence, in some measure, the ignorance of foolish men ; 
and though His providence can protect His people, so that 
not a hair of their heads can be hurt, without His permission ; 
yet the world will show their teeth, if they are not suffered to 
bite. The apostles were accounted babblers, we irepiKaOappara 

TOV KOfffJLOV KCLt TrtlVTWV TTf pt\l/t)^(l , I nCCd not pOUlt OUt tO 

you the force of these expressions. We are no better than 
the apostles ; nor have we reason to expect much better 
treatment, so far as we walk in their steps. On the other 
hand, there is a sober decent way of speaking of God, and 
goodness, and benevolence, and sobriety, which the world 
will bear well enough ; nay, we may say a little about 
Jesus Christ, as ready to make up the deficiencies of our 


honest and good endeavours, and this will not displease 
them. But if we preach Him as the only foundation, lay 
open the horrid evils of the human heart, tell our hearers 
that they are dead in trespasses and sins, and have no better 
ground of hope in themselves than the vilest malefactors, 
in order to exalt the glory of Jesus, as saving those who are 
saved wholly and freely for His own name s sake ; if we 
tell the virtuous and decent, as well as the profligate, that 
unless they are born again, and made partakers of living 
faith, and count all things loss for the excellency of the know 
ledge of Christ, they cannot be saved ; this the world cannot 
bear. We shall be called knaves or fools, uncharitable 
bigots, and twenty hard names. If you have met with 
nothing like this, I wish it may lead you to suspect whether 
you have yet received the right key to the doctrines of 
Christ ; for, depend upon it, the offence of the cross is not 

I am grieved and surprised that you seem to take little 
notice of any thing in the account of my deceased friend, 
but his wishing himself to be a Deist, and his having play- 
books about him in his illness. As to the plays, they were 
Shakespeare s, which, as a man of taste, it is no great wonder 
he should sometimes look into. Your remark on the other 
point shows, that you are not much acquainted with the 
exercises of the human mind, under certain circumstances. 
I believe I observed formerly, that it was not a libertine 
wish. Had you known him, you would have known one of 
the most amiable and unblemished characters. Few were 
more beloved and admired for an uniform course of integ 
rity, moderation, and benevolence ; but he was discouraged. 
He studied the Bible, believed it in general to be the word 
of God ; but his wisdom, his strong turn for reasoning, stood 
so in his way, that he could get no solid comfort from it. 
He felt the vanity of the schemes proposed by many men 
admired in the world as teachers of divinity ; and he felt 
the vanity likewise of his own. He was also a minister, and 
had a sincere design of doing good. He wished to reform 
the profligate, and comfort the afflicted by his preaching ; 
but as he was not acquainted with that one kind of preaching 
which God owns to the edification of the hearers, he found 
he could do neither. A sense of disappointments of this 


kind distressed him. Finding in himself none of that peace 
which the Scripture speaks of, and none of the influence he 
hoped for attending his ministry, he was led sometimes to 
question the truth of the Scripture. We have a spiritual 
enemy always near, to press upon a mind in this desponding 
situation : nor am I surprised that he should then wish 
himself a Deist ; since, if there were any hope for a sinner 
but by faith in the blood of Jesus, he had as much of his 
own goodness to depend upon as most I have known. As 
for the rest, if you could see nothing admirable and wonder 
ful in the clearness, the dignity, the spirituality of his expres 
sions, after the Lord revealed the Gospel to him, I can only 
say I am sorry for it. This I know, that some persons 
of sense, taste, learning, and reason, and far enough from 
my setitiments, have been greatly struck with them. You 
say, a death-bed repentance is what you would be sorry 
to give any hope of. My dear friend, it is well for poor 
sinners that God s thoughts and ways are as much above 
men s as the Heavens are higher than the earth. We agreed 
to communicate our sentiments freely, and promised not 
to be offended with each other s freedom if we could help it. 
I am afraid of offending you by a thought just now upon 
my mind, and yet I dare not in conscience suppress it : 
I must, therefore, venture to say, that I hope they who 
depend upon such a repentance as your scheme points out, 
will repent of their repentance itself upon their death-bed 
at least, if not sooner. You and I, perhaps, should have 
encouraged the fair-spoken young man, who said he had 
kept all the commandments from his youth, and rather 
have left the thief upon the cross to perish like a villain as 
he lived. But Jesus thought differently. I do not encour 
age sinners to defer their repentance to their death-beds 
I press the necessity of a repentance this moment. But 
then I take care to tell them, that repentance is the gift of 
God ; that Jesus is exalted to bestow it ; and that all their 
endeavours that way, unless they seek to Him for grace, will 
be vain as washing a blackmoor, and transient as washing 
a swine, which will soon return to the mire again. I know 
the evil heart will abuse the grace of God ; the apostle 
knew this likewise, Rom. iii. 8, andjvi. 3. But this did not 
tempt him to suppress the glorious grace of the Gospel, 


the power of Jesus to save to the uttermost, and His merci 
ful promise that whosoever cometh unto Him, He will in 
no wise cast out. The repentance of a natural heart pro 
ceeding wholly from fear, like that of some malefactors, 
who are sorry, not that they have committed robbery or 
murder, but that they must be hanged for it ; this undoubt 
edly is nothing worth, whether in time of health or in a 
dying hour. But that /utravom, that gracious change of heart, 
views, and dispositions, which always takes place when 
Jesus is made known to the soul as having died that the 
sinner might live, and been wounded that he might be 
healed ; this, at whatever period God is pleased to afford 
and effect it by His Spirit, brings a sure and everlasting 
salvation with it. 

Still I find I have not done ; you ask my exposition of 
the parables of the talents and pounds ; but at present I 
can write no more. I have only just time to tell you, that 
when I begged your acceptance of Omicron, nothing was 
farther from my expectation than a correspondence with 
you. The frank and kind manner in which you wrote, 
presently won upon my heart. In the course of our letters 
upon Subscription, I observed an integrity and disinterest 
edness in you, which endeared you to, me still more. Since 
that our debates have taken a much more interesting turn ; 
I have considered it as a call, and an opportunity put in 
my hand, by the especial providence of Him who ruleth 
over all. I have embraced the occasion to lay before you 
simply, and rather in a way of testimony than argumenta 
tion, what (in the main) I am sure is truth. I have done 
enough to discharge my conscience, but shall never think 
I do enough to answer the affection I bear you. I have done 
enough likewise to make you weary of my correspondence, 
unless it should please God to fix the subject deeply upon 
your mind, and make you attentive to the possibility and 
vast importance of a mistake in matters of everlasting 
concernment. I pray that the good Spirit of God may guide 
you into all truth. He only is the effectual Teacher. I still 
retain a cheerful hope, that some things you cannot at 
present receive, will hereafter be the joy and comfort of your 
heart ; but I know it cannot be till the Lord s own time. 
I cannot promise to give such long answers as your letters 


require, to clear up every text that may be proposed, and 
to answer every objection that may be started ; yet I shall 
be glad to exchange a letter now and then. At present it 
remains with you whether our correspondence continues 
or not, as this is the third letter I have written since I heard 
from you, and therefore must be the last till I do. I 
should think what remains might be better settled vivA 
voce ; for which purpose I shall be glad to see you, or ready 
to wait on you when leisure will permit, and when I know it 
will be agreeable ; but if (as life and all its affairs are 
precarious) we should never meet in this world, I pray 
God we may meet at the right hand of Jesus, in the great 
day when He shall come to gather up His jewels, and to 
judge the world. There is an endless diversity of opinions 
in matters of religion ; which of them are right and safe, 
and will lead to eternal glory, Dies isle indicabit. I am still 
in a manner lost amidst more engagements than I have 
time to comply with ; but I feel and know that I am, &c. 



MR. B , &c. 


MY DEAREST SIR, September 28, 1774. 

I SEE the necessity of having, if possible, my principles 
at my fingers ends, that I may apply them as occasions 
arise every hour. Certainly, if my ability was equal to my 
inclination, I would remove your tumour with a word or 
a touch ; I would exempt you instantly and constantly 
from every inconvenience and pain ; but you are in the 
hands of One who could do all this and more, and who loves 
you infinitely better than I can do, and yet He is pleased 
to permit you to suffer. What is the plain inference ? 
Certainly, that at the present juncture, He to whom all the 
concatenations and consequences of events are present in 
one view, sees it better for you to have this tumour than to 
be without it ; for I have no more idea of a tumour arising, 
(or any other incidental trial befalling you,) without a 
cause, without a need-be, without a designed advantage to 
result from it, than I have of a mountain or pyramid rising 
up of its own accord in the middle of Salisbury Plain. The 
promise is express and literally true, that all things, uni 
versally and without exception, shall work together for good 
to them that love God. But they work together ; the 
smallest as well as the greatest events have their place and 
use ; like the several stones in the arch of a bridge, where 
no one would singly be useful, but every one in its place is 
necessary to the structure and support of the arch ; or 
rather like the movement of a watch, where, though there 
is an evident subordination of parts, and some pieces have 


a greater comparative importance than others, yet the 
smallest pieces have their place and use, and are so far 
equally important, that the whole design of the machine 
would be obstructed for want of them. Some dispensations 
and turns of divine Providence may be compared to the 
main spring or capital wheels, which have a more visible, 
sensible, and determining influence upon the whole tenour 
of our lives ; but the more ordinary occurrences of every 
day are at least pins and pivots, adjusted, timed, and suited 
with equal accuracy, by the hand of the same great Artist 
who planned and executes the whole ; and we are some 
times surprised to see how much more depends and turns 
upon them than we were aware of. Then we admire His 
skill, and say He has done all things well. Indeed, with 
respect to His works of providence, as well as of creation, 
He well deserves the title of Maximus in minimis. Such 
thoughts as these, when I am enabled to realise them, in 
some measure reconcile me to what He allots for myself 
or my friends, and convince me of the propriety of that 
expostulation, which speaks the language of love as well as 
authority, " Be still, and know that I am God." I sym 
pathize with you in your trial, and pray and trust that your 
Shepherd will be your Physician ; will superintend and 
bless the use of means ; will give you in His good time 
health and cure, and at all times reveal unto you abund 
ance of peace. His promises and power are necessary for 
our preservation in the smoother scenes He has allotted for 
us, and they are likewise sufficient for the roughest. We 
are always equally in danger in ourselves, and always 
equally safe under the shadow of His wings. No storms, 
assaults, sieges, or pestilence can hurt us, till we have filled 
up His appointed measure of service ; and when our work is 
done, and He has ripened us for glory, it is no great matter 
by what means He is pleased to call us home to Himself. 

I have only room to present our joint and sincerest 
respects. The Lord bless you all. 

I am, &c. 



MY DEAREST SIR, October 15, 1774. 

I THINK the greatness of trials is to be estimated rather 
by the impression they make upon our spirits, than by their 
outward appearance. The smallest will be too heavy for us 
if we are left to grapple with it in our own strength, or, 
rather, weakness ; and if the Lord is pleased to put forth His 
power in us, He can make the heaviest light. A lively 
impression of His love, or of His sufferings for us, or of the 
glories within the vail, accompanied with a due sense of 
the misery from which we are redeemed ; these thoughts 
will enable us to be not only submissive but even joyful 
in tribulations. When faith is in exercise, though the 
flesh will have its feelings, the spirit will triumph over them. 
But it is needful we should know that we have no sufficiency 
in ourselves, and, in order to know it, we must feel it ; 
and, therefore, the Lord sometimes withdraws His sensible 
influence, and then the buzzing of a fly will be an overmatch 
for our patience : at other times, He will show us what He 
can do in us, and for us : then we can adopt the apostle s 
words, and say, I can do and suffer all things through Christ 
strengthening me. He has said, My grace is sufficient for 
thee. It is observable, that the children of God seldom 
disappoint our expectations under great trials ; if they show 
a wrongness of spirit, it is usually in such little incidents 
that we are ready to wonder at them. For which, two 
reasons may be principally assigned. When great trials 
are in view, we run simply and immediately to our all- 
sufficient Friend, feel our dependence, and cry in good earnest 
for help ; but, if the occasion seems small, we are too apt 
secretly to lean to our own wisdom and strength, as if, in 
such slight matters, we could make shift without Him. 
Therefore, in these we often fail. Again, the Lord deals 
with us as we sometimes see mothers with their children. 
When a child begins to walk, he is often very self-import 
ant : he thinks he needs no help, and can hardly bear to be 
supported by the finger of another. Now, in such a case, 
if there is no danger or harm from a fall, as if he is on a 
plain carpet, the mother will let him alone to try how he 


can walk. He is pleased at first, but, presently, down he 
comes ; and a few experiments of this kind convince him 
he is not so strong and able as he thought, and make him 
willing to be led. But was he upon the brink of a river or 
a precipice, from whence a fall might be fatal, the tender 
mother would not trust him to himself, no, not for one 
moment. I have not room to make the application, nor is it 
needful. It requires the same grace to bear, with a right 
spirit, a cross word, as a cross injury ; or the breaking of a 
china plate, as the death of an only son. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, November 23, 1774. 

I HOPE to be informed, in due time, that the Lord has 
given you full health and cure. He has preserved me 
hitherto from the hands of surgeons ; but I feel as if my 
flesh would prove, as you say, a very coward, were it needful 
to submit to a painful operation. Yet I observe, when 
such operations are necessary, if people are satisfied of the 
surgeon s skill and prudence, they will not only yield to be 
cut at his pleasure, without pretending to direct him where, 
or how long, he shall make the incision, but will thank and 
pay him for putting them to pain, because they believe 
it for their advantage. I wish I could be more like them 
in my concerns. My body, as I said, is through mercy free 
from considerable ailments, but I have a soul that requires 
surgeon s work continually there is some tumour to be 
discussed or laid open, some dislocation to be reduced, some 
fracture to be healed, almost daily. It is my great mercy, 
that One who is infallible in skill, who exercises incessant 
care and boundless compassion towards all His patients, 
has undertaken my case : and, complicated as it is, I dare 
not doubt His making a perfect cure. Yet, alas ! I too 
often discover such impatience, distrust, and complaining 
when under His hand ; am so apt to find fault with the 
instruments He is pleased to make use of ; so ready to think 


the saluatary wounds He makes unnecessary, or too large ; 
in a word, I show such a promptness to control, were I able, 
or to direct His operations, that, were not His patience beyond 
expression, He would before now have given me up. I am 

persuaded no money would induce Mr. to attend upon 

a patient who should act towards him as I have towards 
my best Physician. Sometimes I indulge a hope that I am 
growing wiser, and think surely, after such innumerable 
proofs as I have had, that He does all things well, I shall now 
be satisfied to leave myself quietly and without reserve 
to His disposal. A thousand such surrenders I have made, 
and a thousand times I have interpretatively retracted 
them. Yet still He is gracious. O, how shall I praise Him 
at last ! 

I thank you for your letter ; I never receive one from 
you without pleasure, and, I believe, seldom without profit, 
at least for the time. I believe with you, that there is much 
of the proper and designed efficacy of the Gospel mystery, 
which I have not yet experienced. And I suppose they 
who are advanced far beyond me in the divine life, judge the 
same of their utmost present attainments. Yet I have no 
idea of any permanent state in this life, that shall make my 
experience cease to be a state of warfare and humiliation. 
At my first setting out, indeed, I thought to be better, and 
to feel myself better, from year to year ; I expected, by 
degrees, to attain everything which I then comprised in 
my idea of a saint. I thought my grain of grace, by much 
diligence and careful improvement, would, in time, amount 
to a pound : that pound, in a farther space of time, to a 
talent, and then I hoped to increase from one talent to many ; 
so that supposing the Lord should spare me a competent 
number of years, I pleased myself with the thoughts of dying 
rich. But, alas ! these, my golden expectations, have been 
like South Sea dreams ; I have lived hitherto a poor sinner, 
and I believe I shall die one. Have I then gained nothing 
by waiting upon the Lord ? Yes, I have gained that which 
I once would rather have been without, such accumulated 
proofs of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of my 
heart, as I hope, by the Lord s blessing, have, in some 
measure, taught me to know what I mean, when I say, 
Behold, I am vile ! And, in connection with this, I have 


gained such experience of the wisdom, power, and compas 
sion of my Redeemer, the need, the worth of His blood, 
righteousness, ascension, and intercession, the glory that 
He displays in pardoning iniquity and sin, and passing by 
the transgression of the remnant of His heritage, that my 
soul cannot but cry out, Who is a God like unto Thee ? 
Thus, if I have any meaner thoughts of myself, Ezek. 
xvi. 63, and any higher thoughts of Him than I had twenty 
years ago, I have reason to be thankful ; every grain of this 
experience is worth mountains of gold. And if, by His 
mercy, I shall yet sink more in my own esteem, and He will 
be pleased to rise still more glorious to my eyes, and more 
precious to my heart I expect it will be much in the same 
way. I was ashamed when I began to seek Him ; I am 
more ashamed now ; and I expect to be most of all ashamed 
when He shall appear to destroy my last enemy. But, oh ! 
I may rejoice in Him, to think that He will not be ashamed 
of me. I am, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, May 19, 1775. 

I HOPE you will find the Lord present at all times, 
and in all places. When it is so, we are at home every 
where ; when it is otherwise, home is a prison, and abroad 
a wilderness. I know what I ought to desire, and what I 
do desire. I point Him out to others as the all in all ; I 
esteem Him as such in my own judgment ; but, alas ! 
my experience abounds with complaints. He is my sun ; 
but clouds, and sometimes walls, intercept Him from my 
view. He is my strength ; yet I am prone to lean upon 
reeds ; He is my friend ; but, on my part, there is such 
coldness and ingratitude, as no other friend could bear. 
But still He is gracious, and shames me with His repeated 
multiplied goodness. O for a warmer heart, a more simple 
dependence, a more active zeal, a more sensible deliverance 
from the effects of this body of sin and death ! He helps 
me in my endeavours to keep the vineyards of others ; but, 


alas ! My own does not seem to flourish as some do around 
me. However, though I cannot say I labour more abund 
antly than they all, I have reason to say with thankfulness, 
by the Grace of God, I am what I am. My poor story would 
soon be much worse, did not He support, restrain, and watch 
over me every minute. Let me entreat your praises and 
prayers, on the behalf of me and mine ; and may the Lord 
bless you and yours with an increase in every good. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, September 2, 1776. 

THE young woman I spoke of is still living, and not 
much weaker than when I left her. The Lord was pleased 
to relieve her on Tuesday evening, and she was comfortable 
the remainder of the week. But yesterday her conflicts 
returned, and she was in great distress. The enemy, who 
always fights against the peace of the Lord s children, finds 
great advantage against them when their spirits are weak 
ened and worn down by long illness, and is often permitted 
to assault them. The reasons are hidden from us, but they 
are doubtless worthy of His wisdom and love, and they 
terminate in victory, to the praise of His glorious grace, 
which is more signally manifested by His leading them 
safely through fire and water, than if their path was always 
smooth. He is sovereign in His dispensations, and appoints 
some of His people to trials and exercises, to which others, 
perhaps, are strangers all their days. Believers are sol 
diers : all soldiers, by their profession, are engaged to fight, 
if called upon ; but who shall be called to sustain the hottest 
service, and be most frequently exposed upon the field of 
battle, depends upon the will of the general or king. Some 
of our soldiers are now upon hard service in America, while 
others are stationed round the palace, see the King s face 
daily, and have no dangers or hardships to encounter. 
These, however, are as liable to a call as the others ; but, 
if not called upon, they may enjoy, with thankfulness, the 
c. L 


more easy post assigned them. Thus, the Captain of our 
salvation allots to His soldiers such stations as He thinks 
proper. He has a right to employ whom He will, and 
where He will. Some are comparatively at ease ; they are 
not exposed to the fiercest onsets, but live near His presence ; 
others are, to appearance, pressed above measure, beyond 
strength, so that they despair even of life ; yet they are 
supported, and, in the end, made more than conquerors 
through Him who hath loved them. Long observation 
convinces me, that the temptations which some endure, 
are not chastisements brought upon them by unfaithfulness, 
or for anything remarkably wrong in their spirit or walk ; 
I often rather consider, that in His warfare as in worldly 
wars, the post of danger and difficulty is the post of honour, 
and, as such, assigned to those whom He has favoured 
with a peculiar measure of His grace. This young woman, 
in particular, was always, from her first awakening, remark 
ably humble and spiritual, and possessed of a broken and 
contrite spirit. I never saw her in a wrong spirit, or heard 
her speak an unadvised word. Yet, I believe, it is impossible 
to express the agonies she had endured. The effect of them 
is visible. Her animal frame was unable to sustain the 
burden. I believe they were the immediate cause of that 
illness which is now bringing her down to the grave. I doubt 
not but these cases depend, in a great measure, upon con 
stitution ; but then the temperament of our bodies depends 
upon His pleasure ; for if the very hairs of our head are 
numbered, it is impossible that those circumstances of our 
frame, which, by the near connexion between body and 
soul, have a powerful influence upon the state of our minds, 
can escape His notice. He could cure such bodily disorders 
as affect the peace of His people in a moment ; yet He does 
not, though He loves them. There must be, therefore, 
wise reasons why He does not ; and though we know them 
not now, we shall know them hereafter. Possibly some suffer 
for the instruction of the rest, that we may learn to be more 
thankful to Him for the peace we enjoy, and to be more 
humbly dependent upon Him for the continuance of it. The 
Lord s way is in the deep, and His path in the great waters, 
untraceable by our feeble reasonings ; but faith brings in 
a good report. We need not doubt but He does all things 


well, and, in due time, we shall see it. In the mean while 
He checks our vain inquiries, and calls upon us to be still 
and know that He is God. 

I brought home with me a thankful sense of the kindness 
and friendship I am favoured with from you and all yours. 
I account tlu s connexion one of the great comforts of my 
life ; and I hope it has been, and will be, not only pleasant, 
but profitable to me. Though I am but an unapt scholar, 
I hope I am not unwilling to learn ; and the Lord, in His 
merciful providence, appoints me many teachers. There 
is little praise due to us, if we either communicate or receive 
benefit in our intercourse with our fellow-disciples. In both 
we are but instruments under the influence of a higher 
hand. Were Christians to meet together without their 
Lord, they would either trifle or quarrel their time away. 
But, as He has said, " Where two or three are met, there 
am I in the midst of them," we may well be glad of oppor 
tunities of coming together. And though, for my own part, 
I am so poor an improver of such seasons, that the recollec 
tion of them, when past, is generally accompanied with 
shame and regret, yet He is gracious and merciful, and sel 
dom leaves me to complain that they were wholly in vain. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, July 22, 1777. 

THE complaints you make of what passes within, encour 
age me under what I feel myself. Indeed, if those whom 
I have reason to believe are more spiritual and humble than 
I am, did not give some testimony that they find their 
hearts made of the same materials as mine is, I should be 
sometimes hard put to it to believe that I have any part or 
lot in the matter, or any real knowledge of the life of faith. 
But this concurrent testimony of many witnesses, confirms 
me in what I think the Scripture plainly teaches, that the 

L 2 


soil of human nature, though many spots are certainly bettei 
weeded, planted, and manured than others, is everywhere 
the same universally bad ; so bad that it cannot be worse, 
and, of itself, is only capable of producing noxious weeds, 
and nourishing venomous creatures. We often see the 
effects of culture, skill, and expense will make a garden 
where all was desert before. When Jesus, the good Hus 
bandman, encloses a soil, and separates it from the waste of 
the world, to make it a residence for Himself, a change pre 
sently takes place ; it is planted and watered from above, 
and visited with beams infinitely more cheering and fertiliz 
ing than those of the material sun. 

But its natural propensity to bring forth weeds still 
continues ; and one half of His dispensations may be com 
pared to a company of weeders, whom He sends forth into 
His garden to pluck up all which He has not planted \vith His 
own hand, and which, if left to grow, would quickly over 
power and overtop the rest. But, alas ! the ground is so 
impregnated with evil seeds, and they shoot in such quick 
succession, that, if this weeding work were not constantly 
repeated, all former labour would be lost. Hinc illce lachrymce 
Hence arises the necessity of daily crosses and disappoint 
ments, daily changes of frame, and such multiplied convic 
tions that we are nothing, and can do nothing of ourselves ; 
all are needful, and barely sufficient to prevent our hearts 
from being overrun with pride, self-dependence, and 
security. Yours, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, November 6, 1777. 

You say you are more disposed to cry miserere than 
hallelujah Why not both together ? When the treble 
is praise, and heart-humiliation for the bass, the melody 
is pleasant, and the harmony good. However, if not 
together, we must have them alternately ; not all singing, 
not all sighing, but an interchange and balance, that we 
may be neither lifted too high, nor cast down too low, 


which would be the case if we were very comfortable, or 
very sorrowful for a long continuance. But though we 
change, the Saviour changes not. All our concerns are in 
His hands, and, therefore, safe. His path is in the deep 
waters, His thoughts and methods of conduct are as high 
above ours, at the heavens are high above the earth ; and 
He often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes, 
directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. 
He wounds in order to heal, kills that He may make alive, 
casts down when He designs to raise, brings a death upon 
our feelings, wishes, and prospects, when He is about to give 
us the desire of our hearts. These things He does to prove 
us ; but He Himself knows, and has determined before 
hand, what He will do. The proof, indeed, usually turns 
out to our shame. Impatience and unbelief show their 
heads, and prompt us to suppose this and the other thing, 
yea, perhaps, all things are against us ; to question whether 
He be with us, and for us, or not. But it issues, likewise, 
in the praise of His goodness, when we find that, maugre 
all our unkind complaints and suspicions, He is still working 
wonderfully for us, causing light to shine out of darkness, 
and doing us good in defiance of ourselves. 

I am, &c. 

To Mr. B jun. 

DEAR SIR, August 24, 1774. 

THE lowness of your voice, and a blameable absence of 
mind on my part, prevented me from understanding what 
you said, when you took your leave of me ; nor did I, 
just at that instant, recollect that you were so soon going 
away. I could not othenvise have parted with you, without 
a particular expression of my warmest wishes for your 
welfare, and commending you, with an emotion which my 
heart always feels for you, to our God, and the word of His 
grace. Permit me, therefore, by writing, to assure you, so 
far as I can answer for myself, that the request you were 


pleased to make for my remembrance, will not be forgotten 
by me. 

You are going abroad ; you will carry with you, I doubt 
not, the best advice, strengthened by the authority and 
affection of parents whom you greatly love, and greatly 
reverence. This may seem to make anything a stranger 
can offer unnecessary, if not impertinent ; yet, confiding in 
your candour, and in your good opinion of my intention, I 
shall venture to let my pen run on a little longer. Not 
only my wishes, but my hopes, are strong in your behalf. 
Perhaps there is hardly a young man in the kingdom, born 
to a fortune, who is setting out in life upon equal advantages 
with yourself. How many at your years, who have been 
brought up in affluence, are unprincipled, uninstructed, 
and have already entered upon a course of dissipation and 
folly, in which it is impossible they themselves can find 
satisfaction, and which, (unless they are reclaimed from it 
by an Almighty arm,) will infallibly preclude them from 
usefulness or esteem ! whereas, your early years have been 
successfully employed in the pursuit of knowledge, and your 
education formed under the most animating and endearing 
influence ; and the Lord has furnished you with every natural 
ability of body and mind, which may qualify you to serve 
Him in that situation of life which His providence has 
allotted you. 

What may I not, then, farther hope from these beginnings, 
especially as it is easy to observe, that He has given you an 
amiable and promising disposition of spirit, and has not only 
preserved you from being hurried down the stream of a 
giddy world, but enabled you to account the tender restraint 
under which you have been educated, not a yoke, but a 

I sympathise with you at what you will feel when you are 
first separated from your happy family. But the Lord God, 
who is the sun and shield of those who fear Him, will be 
always near you ! His favour is the one thing needful, which 
no outward advantages can compensate the want of ; and 
the right knowledge of Him is the one thing needful, which 
no human teaching can communicate. 

Were I more intimate with you, I could have asked the 
question, and, perhaps received the satisfaction to know, that 


you have already begun to consider Him in this light ; 
that you feel a vanity in science, an emptiness in creatures, 
and find that you have desires, which only He who gave them 
can satisfy. I trust it either is, or will be, thus. As to 
learning, though it is useful when we know how to make a 
right use of it, yet, considered as in our own power, and to 
those who trust to it, without seeking a superior guidance, 
it is usually the source of perplexity, strife, scepticism, and 
infidelity. It is, indeed, like a sword in a madman s hands, 
which gives him the more opportunity of hurting himself 
and others. As to what the world calls pleasure, there is 
so little in it, that even the philosophers of old, or many of 
them, though they had little of value to substitute in its 
room, could despise it. You will, perhaps, meet with some 
who will talk another language, who will pretend to be too 
wise to submit to the Bible, and too happy in worldly 
things to expect or desire any happiness beside ; but, I 
trust, you have seen enough to enable you to treat such 
persons with the pity, and such pretensions with the 
contempt, they deserve. 

Should we set our concerns with an eternal world aside for 
a moment, it would be easy to demonstrate that religion is 
necessary, in order to make the most of this life, and to 
enjoy temporal good with the highest relish. In such a 
world as this, where we are every moment liable to so many 
unforeseen and unavoidable contingencies, a man without 
religion may be compared to a ship in a storm, without either 
rudder, anchor, or pilot. But then, the religion which only 
deserves the name, must come from above ; it must be 
suited to the state and wants of a sinner, it must be capable 
of comforting the heart, it must take away the sting and 
dread of death, and fix our confidence upon One who is 
always able to help us. Such is the religion of Jesus, such 
are its effects, and such are the criteria whereby we are to 
judge of the various forms and schemes under which it is 
proposed to us. But I forbear ; I am only reminding you 
of what you know, and what you have known to be verified 
by living and dying examples. This happiness, my dear Sir, 
is open to you, to all who seek. He is enthroned in Heaven, 
but prayer will bring Him down to the heart. Indeed, He 
is alwavs beforehand with us ; and if we feel one desire 


towards Him, we may accept it as a token that He gave it 
us to encourage us to ask for more. 

May He be your guide and guard, be with you at all times, 
and in all places, and bring you back to your father s house 
in peace ! Should I live to see that day, you have few friends 
whose congratulations would be wanner, or more sincere, 
than mine ; and if, when you are settled, and at leisure, you 
will afford me a letter it will be both a pleasure and a favour, 
to, dear Sir, Yours, &c. 

To Miss M B- 

MY DEAR Miss M Nov. n, 1775. 

OUR late visit to was very pleasant to myself ; 

if anytliing passed that was of service to you, we know to 
whom the thanks are due ; for we can neither communicate 
nor receive anything but so far as He is pleased to enable us. 
One reason why He often disappoints us is, that we may 
learn to depend on Him alone. We are prone, as you observe, 
to rest too much upon sensible comforts, yet they are very 
desirable ; only, as to the measure and seasons, it is well 
to be submissive to His will, to be thankful for them when 
we have them, and humbly waiting for them when we have 
them not. They are not, however, the proper ground of 
our hope ; a good hope springs from such a sense of our 
wants, and such a persuasion of His power and grace, as 
engages the heart to venture, upon the warrant of His pro 
mises, to trust in Him for salvation. In a sense, we are often 
liindering Him by our impatience and unbelief ; but, 
strictly speaking, when He really begins the good work, and 
gives us a desire which will be satisfied with nothing short of 
Himself, He will not be hindered from carrying it on ; for He 
has said, I will work, and none shall let it. Ah ! had it 
depended upon myself, upon my wisdom or faithfulness, I 
should have hindered Him to purpose, and ruined myself 
long ago. How often have I grieved and resisted His 


Spirit ! but hereby I have learned more of His patience and 
tenderness than I could otherwise have known. He knows 
our frame, and what effects our evil nature, fomented by the 
artifices of Satan, will have ; He sees us from first to last. 
A thousand evils arise in our hearts, a thousand wrongnesses 
in our conduct, which, as they do arise, are new to ourselves, 
and, perhaps, at some times we were ready to think we were 
incapable of such things ; but none of them are new to Him, 
to whom past, present, and future are the same. The 
foresight of them did not prevent His calling us by His grace. 
Though He knew we were vile, and should prove un 
grateful and unfaithful, yet He would be found of us ; He 
would knock at the door of our hearts, and gain Himself 
an entrance. Nor shall they prevent His accomplishing 
His gracious purpose. It is our part to be abased before 
Him, and quietly to hope and wait for His salvation in the 
use of His appointed means. The power, success, and 
blessing, are wholly from Himself. To make us more 
sensible of this, He often withdraws from our perception : 
and as, in the absence of the sun, the wild beasts of the forest 
roam abroad ; so when Jesus hides Himself, we presently 
perceive what is in our hearts, and what a poor shift we can 
make without Him ; when He returns, His light chases the 
evils away, and we are well again. However, they are not 
dead, when most controlled by His presence. 

It is your great and singular mercy, my dear Miss, that 
He has taught you to seek Him so early in life. You are 
entered in the way of salvation, but you must not expect 
all at once. The work of grace is compared to the corn, and 
to a building ; the growth of the one, and the carrying 
forward of the other, are gradual. In a building, for in 
stance, if it be large, there is much to be done in preparing 
and laying the foundation, before the walls appear above 
ground ; much is doing within, when the work does not seem, 
perhaps, to advance without ; and when it is considerably 
forward, yet being encumbered with scaffolds and rubbish 
a by-stander sees it at a great disadvantage, and can form 
but an imperfect judgment of it. But all this while the archi 
tect himself, even from the laying of the first stone, conceives 
of it according to the plan and design he has formed ; he 
prepares and adjusts the materials, disposing each in its 


proper time and place, and views it, in idea, as already 
finished. In due season it is completed, but not in a day. 
The top-stone is fixed, and then the scaffolds and rubbish 
being removed, it appears to others as he intended it should 
be. Men, indeed, often plan what, for want of skill or 
ability, or from unforeseen disappointments, they are unable 
to execute. But nothing can disappoint the heavenly 
Builder ; nor will He ever be reproached with forsaking the 
work of His own hands, or beginning that which He could 
not, or would not, accomplish, Phil. i. 6. Let us, therefore, 
be thankful for beginnings, and patiently wait the event. 
His enemies strive to retard the work, as they did when the 
Jews, by His order, set about rebuilding the temple. Yet 
it was finished, in defiance of them all. 

Believe me to be, &c. 


MY DEAR Miss M April 29, 1776. 

I THANK you for your last ; and I rejoice in the Lord s 
goodness to you. To be drawn by love, exempted from 
those distressing terrors and temptations which some are 
beset with ; to be favoured with the ordinances and means of 
grace, and connected with those, and with those only, who 
are disposed and qualified to assist and encourage you in 
seeking the Saviour these are peculiar advantages, which 
all concur in your case ; He loves you, He deals gently with 
you, He provides well for you, and accompanies every out 
ward privilege with His special blessing ; and I trust He 
will lead you on from strength to strength, and show you 
still greater things than you have yet seen. They whom He 
teaches are always increasing in knowledge, both of them 
selves and of Him. The heart is deep, and, like Ezekiel s 
vision, presents so many chambers of imagery, one within 
another, that it requires time to get a considerable ac 
quaintance with it, and we shall never know it thoroughly. 
It is now more than twenty-eight years since the Lord began 


to open mine to my own view ; and, from that time to this, 
almost every day has discovered to me something which, 
till then, was unobserved ; and the farther I go, the more 
I seem convinced that I have entered but a little way. A 
person that travels in some parts of Derbyshire may easily 
be satisfied that the country is cavernous ; but how large, 
how deep, how numerous the caverns may be, which are 
hidden from us by the surface of the ground, and what is 
contained in them, are questions which our nicest inquirers 
cannot fully answer. Thus I judge of my heart that it is 
very deep and dark, and full of evil ; but as to particulars, 
I know not one of a thousand. 

And if our own hearts are beyond our comprehension, how 
much more incomprehensible is the heart of Jesus ! If sin 
abounds in us, grace and love superabound in Him : His 
ways and thoughts are higher than ours, as the heavens are 
higher than the earth ; His love has a height, and depth, 
and length, and breadth, that passeth all knowledge ; and 
His riches of grace are unsearchable riches, Eph. iii. 8, 18, 19. 
All that we have received, or can receive, from Him, or know 
of Him in this life, compared with what He is in Himself, or 
what He has for us, is but as the drop of a bucket compared 
with the ocean, or a single ray of light in respect of the sun. 
The waters of the sanctuary flow to us, at first, almost upon 
a level, ankle deep, so graciously does the Lord condescend 
to our weakness ; but they rise as we advance, and constrain 
us to cry out with the apostle, O the depth ! We find before 
us, as Dr. Watts beautifully expresses it, 

A sea of love and grace unknown, 
Without a bottom or a shore. 

O the excellency of the knowledge of Christ ! It will be 
growing upon us through time, yea, I believe, through 
eternity. What an astonishing and what a cheering thought, 
that this high and lofty One should unite Himself to our 
nature, that so, in a way worthy of His adorable perfections, 
He might, by His Spirit, unite us to Himself ! Could such a 
thought have arisen in our hearts, without the warrant of 
His word (but it is a thought which no created mind was 
capable of conceiving till He revealed it) it would have been 
presumption and blasphemy ; but now He has made it 


known, it is the foundation of our hope, and an inexhaus 
tible spring of life and joy. Well may we say, Lord, what 
is man, that Thou shouldst thus visit him ? 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR Miss M September 3, 1776. 

WE saw no danger upon the road homeward ; but my 
judgment tells me we are always upon the brink of danger, 
though we see it not ; and that, without the immediate 
protection and care of Him who preserveth the stars in their 
courses, there could be no travelling safely a few miles, nor 
even sitting in safety by the fire-side. But with Him we 
are safe in all places and circumstances, till our race is done, 
and His gracious purposes concerning us in the present life 
are completely answered ; then He will call us home, that 
we may see His face, and be with Him for ever, and then it 
will not much signify what messenger He shall be pleased 
to send for us. 

While He took care of us abroad, He watched over our 
concerns at home, likewise ; so that we found all well upon 
our return, and met with nothing to grieve us. Many go out 
and return home no more, and many find distressing things 
have happened in their absence ; but we have to set up our 
Ebenezer, and to say, Hitherto He has helped us. Assist 
me to praise Him. The Lord is leading you in the good old 
way, in which you may perceive the footsteps of His flock 
who have gone before you. They had, in their day, the 
same difficulties, fears, and complaints as we have, and, 
through mercy, we partake of the same consolation which 
supported and refreshed them ; and the promises which they 
trusted, and found faithful, are equally sure to us. It is 
still true, that they who believe shall never be confounded. 
If left to ourselves, we should have built upon sand ; but He 
has provided and revealed a sure foundation, removed our 
natural prejudices against it ; and now, though rains, and 
floods, and storms assault our building, it cannot fall, for it is 
founded upon a Rock. The suspicions and fears which arise 


in an awakened mind, proceed, in a good measure, from 
remaining unbelief : but not wholly so ; for there is a jeal 
ousy and diffidence of ourselves, a wariness, owing to a sense 
of the deceitfulness of our hearts, which is a grace and 
a gift of the Lord. Some people who have much zeal, but 
are destitute of this jealous fear, may be compared to a ship 
that spreads a great deal of sail, but is not properly ballasted, 
and is, therefore, in danger of being overset whenever a storm 
comes. A sincere person has many reasons for distrusting 
his own judgment ; is sensible of the vast importance of the 
case, and afraid of too hastily concluding in his own favour, 
and, therefore, not easily satisfied. However, this fear, 
though useful, especially to young beginners, is not com 
fortable ; and they who simply wait upon Jesus, are gradu 
ally freed from it, in proportion as their knowledge of Him, 
and their experience of His goodness, increases. He has a 
time for settling and establishing them in Himself, and His 
time is best. We are hasty, and would be satisfied at once, 
but His word is, Tarry thou the Lord s leisure. The work of 
grace is not like Jonah s gourd, which sprang up and flour 
ished in a night, and as quickly withered, but rather like the 
oak, which, from a little acorn, and a tender plant, advances, 
with an almost imperceptible growth, from year to year, 
till it becomes a broad, spreading, and deep-rooted tree, and 
then it stands for ages. The Christian oak shall grow and 
flourish for ever. When I see any, soon after they appear to 
be awakened, making a speedy profession of great joy, be 
fore they have a due acquaintance with their own hearts, I 
am in pain for them. I am not sorry to hear them after 
wards complain that their joys are gone, and they are 
almost at their wits end ; for without some such check, 
to make them feel their weakness and dependence, I seldom 
find them turn out well : either their fervour insensibly 
abates till they become quite cold, and sink into the world 
again (of which I have seen many instances) or, if they do 
not give up all, their walk is uneven, and their spirit has 
not that savour of brokenness and true humility, which 
is a chief ornament of our holy profession. If they do not 
feel the plagues of their hearts at first, they find it out 
afterwards, and too often manifest it to others. Therefore, 
though I know the Spirit of the Lord is free, and will not be 


confined to our rules, and there may be excepted cases ; 
yet, in general, I believe the old proverb, " Soft and fair 
goes far," will hold good in Christian experience. Let us 
be thankful for the beginnings of grace, and wait upon our 
Saviour patiently for the increase. And, as we have chosen 
Him for our physician, let us commit ourselves to His manage 
ment and not prescribe to Him what He shall prescribe for 
us. He knows us, and He loves us better than we do 
ourselves, and will do all things well. 

You say, " It never came with power and life to my soul, 
that He died for me." If you mean, you never had any 
extraordinary, sudden manifestation, something like a vision 
or a voice from Heaven, confirming it to you, I can say the 
same. But I know He died for sinners ; I know I am a 
sinner ; I know He invites them that are ready to perish ; 
I am such a one ; I know, upon His own invitation, I have 
committed myself to Him : and I know by the effects, that 
He has been with me hitherto, otherwise I should have been 
an apostate long ago ; and, therefore, I know that He died 
for me ; for had He been pleased to kill me (as He justly 
might have done) He would not have shown me such 
things as these. 

If I must i>erish, would the Lord 
Have taught my heart to love His word ? 
Would He have given me eyes to see 
My danger and my remedy ? 
Reveal d His name, and bid me pray, 
Had He resolv d to say me nay ? 

I know that I am a child, because He teaches me to say, 
Abba, Father. I know that I am His, because He has 
enabled me to choose Him for mine. For such a choice and 
desire could never have taken place in my heart, if He had 
not placed it there Himself. By nature I was too blind to 
know Him, too proud to trust Him, too obstinate to serve 
Him, too base-minded to love Him. The enmity I was 
filled with against His government, righteousness, and grace, 
was too strong to be subdued by any power but His own. 
The love I bear Him is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is 
an emanation from Himself : He kindled it, and He keeps it 
alive ; and, because it is His work, I trust many waters shall 
not quench it. 

I have only room to assure you that I am, &c. 





MY DEAR SIR, April 15, 1776. 


I OFTEN rejoice on your behalf. Your call out of the 
world was a singularly comfortable instance of the power of 
grace. And when I consider the difficulties and snares of 
your situation, and that you have been kept in the middle 
path, preserved from undue compliances on the one hand 
and unnecessary singularities on the other, I cannot doubt 
but the Lord has hitherto helped and guided you. Indeed, 
you have need of His guidance. At your years, and with 
your expectations in life, your health firm, and your 
natural spirits lively, you are exposed to many snares : 
yet, if the Lord keeps you sensible of your danger, and de 
pendent upon Him, you will walk safely. Your security, 
succcsc, and comfort, depend upon Him ; and in the way 
of means, chiefly upon your being preserved in a humble 
sense of v; ^ir own weakness. It is written, " Fear not, I 
am with thee." It is written again, " Blessed is the man 
who feareth always." There is a perfect harmony in those 
seemingly different texts. May the wisdom that cometh 
from above teac/ you and me to keep them both united in 
our view. If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. 
His eye is upon us, His arm over us, His ear open to our prayer 
His grace sufficient, His promise unchangeable. Under 
His protection, though the path of duty should lie through 
fire and water, we may cheerfully and confidently pursue it. 
On the other hand, our hearts are so deceitful, fallible, 



and frail ; our spiritual enemies so subtle, watchful, and 
powerful ; and they derive so many advantages from the 
occasions of every day, in which we are unavoidably and 
unexpectedly concerned ; there is so much combustible 
within, and so many temptations arising from without, 
capable of setting all in a flame, that we cannot be too 
jealous of ourselves and our circumstances. The Duke of 
Devonshire s motto (if I mistake not) well suits the Christian, 
Cavendo tutus. When we can say in the Psalmist s spirit, 
Hold thou me up, we may warrantably draw his conclusion 
and I shall be safe ; but the moment we lean to our own 
understanding, we are in imminent danger of falling. The 
enemy who wars against our souls is a consummate master 
in his way, fertile in stratagems, and equally skilful in carry 
ing on his assaults by sap or by storm. He studies us, if I 
may so say, all around, to discover our weak sides ; and 
he is a very Proteus for changing his appearances, and can 
appear as a sly serpent, a roaring lion, or an angel of light, as 
best suits his purpose. It is a great mercy to be in some 
measure acquainted with his devices, and aware of them. 
They who wait humbly upon the Lord, and consult care 
fully at His word and throne of grace, are made wiser than 
their enemy, and enabled to escape and withstand his wiles. 
I know you will not expect me to apologize for putting you 
in mind of these things, though you know them. I have a 
double warrant : the love I bear you, and the Lord s com 
mand, Heb. iii. 13. Use the like freedom with me ; I 
need it, and hope to be thankful for it, and accept it as one 
of the best proofs of friendship. 

The Lord bless and keep you. Pray for us, and believe 
me to be sincerely yours. / 


MY DEAR SIR, Jtdy 13, 1776. 

THE Lord, who mercifully called you out of a state of 
thoughtless dissipation, and has hitherto been with you, will, 
I trust, sweeten all your trials, and cause His light to shine 


upon your paths. It seems probable, that if you pay a just 
regard to your father s negative, which, I really think, He 
has a right to expect from you, and, at the same time, make 
a steady and conscientious use of that negative, which he 
generously allows you to put upon his proposals, to which, I 
think, you have an equal right I say, while things remain 
in this situation, and you continue to think differently, it 
seems probable that the hour of your exchanging a single 
for the married state is yet at some distance. But let not 
this grieve you. The Lord is all-sufficient. A lively sense 
of His love, a deep impression of eternity, a heart filled with 
zeal for His cause, and a thirst for the good of souls, will, 
I hope, enable you to make a cheerful sacrifice of whatever 
has no necessary connection with your peace and His service. 
And you may rest assured, that whenever He who loves 
you better than you do yourself, sees it best for you, upon the 
whole, to change your condition, He will bring it about, He 
will point out the person, prepare the means, and secure the 
success, by His providence, and the power He has over 
every heart. And you shall see that all previous difficulties 
were either gracious preventions, which He threw in the 
way to prevent your taking a wrong step, or temporary 
bars, which, by His removing them afterwards, should give 
you opportunity of more clearly perceiving His care and 
interposition in your favour. In the meantime, remember 
your high calling you are a minister and ambassador of 
Christ : you are entrusted with the most honourable and 
important employment that can engage and animate the 

heart Of man. Tadra ^tXtra, iv rwroie t<70t nri^ivt avroi^.* 

*Fiil<jd and fired with a constraining sense of the love 
of Je*-^, and the worth of souls ; impressed with an ardour 
to -ia..^s.,var into Satan s kingdom, to storm his strongholds, 
and rescue his captives you will have little leisure to think 
of anything eise. How does the love of glory stimulate the 
soldier, make him forget and forego a thousand personal 
tendernesses, and prompt him to cross oceans, to traverse 
deserts, to scale mountains, and plunge into the greatest 
hardships and the thickest dangers ! They do it for a 
corruptible crown, a puff of breath, an empty fame ; their 

* i Tim. iv. 15, 16. 

C. M 


highest prospect is the applause and favour of their prince. 
We, likewise, are soldiers ; we have a Prince and Captain 
who deserves our all. They who know Him, and have 
hearts to conceive of His excellence, and to feel their obliga 
tions to Him, cannot indeed seek their own glory, but His 
glory is dearer to them than a thousand lives. They owe 
Him their souls, for He redeemed them with blood, His own 
blood : and, by His grace, He subdued and pardoned them 
when they were rebels, and in arms against Him. There 
fore they are not their own, they would not be their own. 
When His standard is raised, when His enemies are in 
motion, when His people are to be rescued, they go forth 
clothed with His panoply, they fight under His eye, they are 
sure of His support, and He shows them the conqueror s 
crown. O when they think of that .v c*\i ayafa* with 
which He has promised to welcome them home when the 
campaign is over, hard things seem easy, and bitter things 
sweet ; they count nothing, not even their own lives, dear, 
so that they may finish their course with joy. May the 
Lord make us thus minded ; give us a hearty concern for 
His business, and He has engaged to take care of ours ; 
and nothing that can conduce to our real comfort and 
usefulness shall be withheld. 

Believe me to be sincerely yours. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, December 21, 

YOUR letter brought me tidings of joy, <tyd then 
furnished me with materials for a bonfire upo* 1 the occasion. 
It was an act of passive obedience to burn it, but I did obey. 
I congratulate you upon the happy issue to which the Lord 
has brought your affairs. I see that His good Spirit and 
good providence have been, and are, with you. I doubt not 

but your union with Miss will be a mutual blessing, 

and, on your part, heightened by being connected with such 

* Well done, good servant. 


a family. I could enlarge upon this head, if my letter, 
likewise, was to be burnt as soon as you have read it. I 
look upon the friendship the Lord has given me there, as 
one of my prime privileges ; and I hope I shall always 
be thankful that it proved a means of introducing you 
into it. 

I congratulate you, likewise, upon your accession to 
, not because it is a good living, in a genteel neighbour 
hood, and a fine country ; but because I believe the Lord 
sends you there for fulfilling the desires He has given you, 
of being useful to souls. Church preferment, in any other 
view, is dreadful : and I would as soon congratulate a man 
upon seeing a millstone tied about his neck, to sink him into 
the depths of the sea, as upon his obtaining what is called 
a good living, except I thought him determined to spend and 
be spent in the cause of the Gospel. A parish is an awful 
millstone, indeed, to those who see nothing valuable in the 
flock but the fleece ; but the Lord has impressed your 
heart with a sense of the glory and importance of His 
truth, and the worth of souls, and animated your zeal by 
the most powerful motive, the knowledge of His constraining 
love. Your case is extraordinary. Perhaps, when you 
review in your mind the circle of your former gay acquaint- 
tance, you may say with Job s servant, " I only am escaped 
alive " : the rest are either removed into an eternal state, 
or are still hurrying down the stream of dissipation, and 
living without God in the world. Yet there was a time 
when there seemed no more probability on your side than 
on theirs, that you should obtain mercy, and be called to 
the honour of preaching the glorious Gospel. You are 
settcv, out with every possible advantage in early life, 
with ^ cheerful flow of spirits, affluent circumstances ; and 
now, td crown all, the Lord gives you the very choice of 
your heart in a partner ; one who, besides deserving and 
meeting your affection, will, I am persuaded, be a real help 
mate to you in your spiritual walk. How much is here to be 
thankful for ! 

I trust the Lord has given you, and will maintain in you, 
a right spirit, so as not to rest in His gifts, but to hold them 
in connection with the love and favour of the Giver. It is a 
low time with us when the greatest assemblage of earthly 

M 2 


blessings can seem to satisfy us without a real communion 
with Him. His grace is sufficient for you ; but, undoubt 
edly, such a scene of prosperity as seems to lie before you, 
is full of snares, and calls for a double effort of watchfulness 
and prayer. Your situation will fix many eyes upon you, 
and Satan will, doubtless, watch you, and examine every 
corner of the hedge around you, to see if he can find a gap 
by which to enter. We have but few rich Gospel-Ministers ; 
but it is too evident that he has found a way to damp the 
zeal, and hurt the spirits, of some of those few, who, for a 
time, acted nobly, and seemed to walk out of the reach of 
the allurements of the world. I am not jealous of you ; I 
feel a comfortable persuasion that the Lord has taken a 
fast hold of your heart, and given you a fast hold of His 
almighty arm : yet I believe you will not be displeased with 
me for dropping a hint of this kind, and at this time. 

You have heard of the trial with which the Lord has 
been pleased to visit us ; it still continues, though con 
siderably alleviated. It is tempered with many mercies, 
and, I hope, He disposes us, in a measure, to submission. I 
trust it will be for good. My dear friend, you are now com 
ing into my school, where you will learn, as occasions offer, 
to feel more in the person of another than in your own. 
But be not discouraged ; the Lord only afflicts for our 
good. It is necessary that our sharpest trials should some 
times spring from our dearest comforts, else we should be in 
danger of forgetting ourselves, and setting up our rest 
here. In such a world, and with such hearts as we have, 
we shall often need something to prevent our cleaving 
to the dust, to quicken us to prayer, and to make us feel 
that our dependence for one hour s peace is upon tj^?, i,ord 
alone. I am ready to think I have known as mucj^of die 
good and happiness which this world can afford, as most 
people who live in it. I never saw the person with whom 
I wished to exchange in temporals. And, for many years 
past, I have thought my trials have been light and few, 
compared with what many, or most, of the Lord s people 
have endured. And yet, though in the main possessed of 
my own wishes, when I look back upon the twenty-seven 
years past, I am ready to style them, with Jacob, few and 
evil ; and to give the sum-total of their contents in Solomon s 


words All is vanity. If I take these years to pieces, I see 
a great part of them was filled up with sins, sorrows, and 
inquietudes. The pleasures too are gone, and have no more 
real existence than the baseless fabric of a dream. The 
shadows of the evening will soon begin to come over us ; 
and, if our lives are prolonged, a thousand pains and infirmi 
ties, from which the Lord has, in a remarkable measure, 
exempted us hitherto, will probably overtake us ; and, at 
last, we must feel the parting pang. Sic transit gloria mundi. 
Sin has so envenomed the soil of this earth, that the amaranth 
will not grow upon it. But we are hastening to a better 
world, and bright unclouded skies, where our sun will go 
down no more, and all tears shall be wiped from our eyes. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, September 27, 1777. 

MR. called on us Thursday evening, and, from 

that hour, my thoughts, when awake, have seldom been 

absent from . Few people are better qualified to 

feel for you, yourself and the family excepted ; perhaps, 
there is no person living more nearly interested in what 
concerns Mrs. - - than myself. I could not, therefore, at 
such a time as this, refrain from writing ; and glad should I 
be, if the Lord may help me to drop a suitable word, and 
accompany it with a blessing to you in the reading. 

I .1 glad to be assured (though I expected no less) that 
Mrs. -\ happily feels herself safe in the Lord s hand, 
and undo, the care of the good Shepherd and Saviour, to 
whom she has often committed herself ; and finds Him faithful 
to His promise, giving her strength in her soul according to 
her day, and enabling her quietly to submit to His holy, 
wise, and gracious will. And it is my prayer, that He may 
strengthen you likewise, and reveal His own all-sufficiency 
so clearly and powerfully to your heart, that you may not 
be afraid of any event, but cheerfully rely upon Him, to be 


all that to you, in every circumstance and change, which 
His promise warrants you to expect. 

I am willing to hope that this is but a short season of 
anxiety, appointed for the exercise of your faith and patience, 
and to give you, in his good time, a signal proof of His power 
and goodness in answering prayer. He sometimes brings 
us into such a situation, that the help of creatures is utterly 
unavailing, that we may afterwards be more clearly sensible 
of His interposition. Then we experimentally learn the 
vanity of all things here below, and are brought to a more 
immediate and absolute dependence upon Himself. We 
have need of having these lessons frequently inculcated upon 
us ; but when His end is answered, how often, after He has 
caused grief, does He show His great compassions, and 
save us from our fears by an outstretched arm, and such a 
seasonable and almost unexpected relief, as constrains us 
to cry out, What has God wrought ; and who is a God like 
unto Thee ? Such, I hope, will be the issue of your present 
trial, and that He, who gave her to you at first, will restore 
her to you again. I see you in the furnace ; but the Lord 
is sitting by it as a refiner of silver, to moderate the fire, 
and manage the process, so that you shall lose nothing but 
dross, and be brought forth refined as gold, to praise His 
name. Apparent difficulties, however great, are nothing 
to Him. If He speaks, it is done ; for to God the Lord 
belong the issues from death. Should His pleasure be other 
wise, and should He call your dear partner to a state of glory 
before you, still I know He is able to support you. What 
He does, however painful to the flesh, must be right, because 
He does it. Having bought us with His blood, and saved 
our souls from hell, He has every kind of right to. dispose i<of 
us and ours as He pleases ; and this we are sure of, rlv will 
not lay so much upon us as He freely endured for u c .; and 
He can make us amends for all we suffer, and for .iivve lose, 
by the light of His countenance. A few years will set all 
to rights ; and they who love Him, and are beloved by Him, 
though they may suffer as others, shall not sorrow as others ; 
for the Lord will be with them here, and He will soon 
have them with Him : there all tears shall be wiped from 
their eyes. 

Perhaps I know as well how to calculate the pain of such 


a separation, as any one who has not actually experienced 
it. Many a time the desire of my eyes has been threatened, 
many a time my heart has been brought low ; but, from what 
I have known at such seasons, I have reason to hope, that 
had it been His pleasure to bring upon me the thing that I 
feared, His everlasting arm would have upheld me from 
sinking under the stroke. As ministers, we are called to 
comfort the Lord s afflicted people, and to tell them the 
knowledge of His love is a cordial able to keep the soul 
alive under the sharpest trials. We must not wonder 
that He sometimes puts us in a way of showing that we do 
not deal in unfelt truths, but that we find ourselves that 
solid consolation in the Gospel which we encourage others 
to expect from it. You have now such an occasion of glori 
fying the Lord ; I pray He may enable you to improve it, 
and that all around you may see that He is with you, and 
that His good word is the support and anchor of your soul. 
Then I am sure, if it, upon the whole, is best for you, He 
will give you the desire of your heart, and you shall yet live 
to praise Him together. I am, &c. 



REV. MR. O- 


MY DEAREST SIR, April 3, 1759. 

You see I have prevented you in your promise of 
writing first ; and having found a pretext for troubling Mr. 

, I was willing to venture upon you without any, 
unless you would let me plead a desire of showing you, how 
welcome your correspondence would be to me. I know not 
if my heart was ever more united to any person, in so short 
a space of time, than to you ; and what engaged me so much 
was, the spirit of meekness and of love (that peculiar and 
inimitable mark of true Christianity) which I observed in 
you. I mean it not to your praise. May all the praise be 
to Him from whom every good and perfect gift cometh, 
who alone maketh the best to differ from the worst : but 
I think I may well mention, to your encouragement, that all 
who conversed with you greatly regret your speedy depar 
ture ; and I am persuaded, the same temper, the same 
candour, will make you acceptable, honourable, and useful, 
wherever you go. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the, meek, 
the merciful, and the peace-makers ; they shall oK/.in the 
mercy they want, and possess the peace they lovt, They 
shall inherit the earth. The earth, sinful and miserable 
as it is, shall be worthy to be called an inheritance to them, 
for they shall enjoy a comparative heaven in it. They shall 
be called the children of God, though dignified with no title 
among men. Alas ! how much are these things overlooked, 
even by many who, I would hope, are real believers. Me- 
thinks, a very different spirit from that of the church of 



Laodicea is to be seen amongst us, though, perhaps, it is 
not easy to say which is the best of the two. That was 
neither cold nor hot ; this (mirabile dictu] is both cold and hot 
at once, and both to the extreme hot, hasty, and arbit 
rary in those few things where mediocrity is a virtue ; 
but cool and remiss in those great points, where the applica 
tion of the whole heart, and soul, and mind, and strength is 
so absolutely necessary, and so positively enjoined. Surely 
there is too much room for this observation, and I, perhaps, 
stand self-condemned in making it. 

I hope you will take opportunity to improve your interest 
in Mr. - - by letter. He expressed much satisfaction 
in the hour he spent with you before you sailed, and a great 
regard for you ; therefore would, I doubt not, give you a 
fair hearing ; and the phrase litera scripta manet is true in 
more senses than one. He makes such large concessions 
sometimes, that I am apt to think he is conscious of the 
weakness of his own argument ; and then he is so soon angry 
with himself for complying as far, and flies off to the other 
extreme. Yet, for the most part, when he speaks plain, and 
is not restrained by complaisance for particular persons, he 
appears not only a stranger to experimental religion, but 
averse to the notion, and generally inclined to treat it with 
levity. His obstacles are very many and very great ; his 
reputation as a learned man, his years, his regular life, and, 
perhaps, above all, his performances in print, especially his 
last book, are so many barriers that must be broke through 
before conviction can reach him. But the grace of God 
can do all this and more ; and, indeed, when I think of the 
many truly valuable parts of his character, and the indefatig 
able pains he has taken in his researches after truth, I am 
willing to hope, that the Lord will, at length, teach him the 
true w sdom, and enable him (however hard it may seem) to 
give upv/iis own attainments, and sit down, like a little 
child, a tue feet of Jesus. 

I hope to hear soon and often from you. I number my 
Christian correspondents among my principal blessings, a 
few judicious pious friends, to whom, when I can get leisure 
to write, I send my heart by turns. I can trust them with 
my inmost sentiments, and can write with no more disguise 
than I think. I shall rejoice to add you to the number, if 


you can agree to take me as I am (as I think you will) and 
suffer me to commit my whole self to paper, without respect 
to names, parties, and sentiments. I endeavour to observe 
my Lord s commands, to call no man master upon earth : 
yet I desire to own and honour the image of God, wherever 
I find it. I dare not say I have no bigotry, for I know not 
myself ; and remember, to my shame, that formerly, when I 
ignorantly professed myself free from it, I was, indeed, 
overrun with it : but this I can say, I allow it not ; I strive 
and pray against it ; and thus far, by the grace of God, I have 
attained, that I find my heart as much united to many who 
differ from me in some points, as to any who agree with me 
in all. I set no value upon any doctrinal truth, farther than 
as it has a tendency to promote practical holiness. If others 
should think those things hindrances, which I judge to be 
helps, in this respect, I am content they should go on in their 
own way, according to the light God has given them, pro 
vided they will agree with me it> ry Eiraraywc. If it should 
be asked, Which are the necessary things ? I answer, 
Those in which the spiritual worshippers of all ages and 
countries have been agreed. Those, on the contrary, are 
mere subordinate matters, in which the best men, those who 
have been the most eminent for faith, prayer, humility, and 
nearness to God, always have been, and still are, divided 
in their judgments. Upon this plan I should think it no 
hard matter to draw up a form of sound words (whether 
dignified with the name of a creed or not, I care not) to which 
true believers of all sort and sizes would unanimously sub 
scribe. Suppose it ran something in the following manner : 
I believe that sin is the most hateful thing in the world ; 
that I and all men are, by nature, in a state of wrath and 
depravity, utterly unable to sustain the penalty or to fulfil 
the commands, of God s holy law; and that we t ljj-* r e no 
sufficiency of ourselves to think a good thought. > believe 
that Jesus Christ is the chief among ten thousands^ ^hat He 
came into the world to save the chief of sinners, by making 
a propitiation for sin by His death, by paying a perfect 
obedience to the law, in our behalf ; and that He is now 
exalted on high, to give repentance and remission of sins 
to all that believe ; and that He ever liveth to make inter 
cession for us. I believe that the Holy Spirit (the gift of 


God through Jesus Christ) is the sure and only guide into 
all truth, and the common privilege of all believers ; and, 
under His influence, I believe the Holy Scriptures are able 
to make us wise unto salvation, and to furnish us thoroughly 
for every good work. I believe that love to God, and to 
man for God s sake, is the essence of religion, and the 
fulfilling of the law ; that without holiness no man shall see 
the Lord ; that those who, by a patient course in well-doing, 
seek glory, honour, and immortality, shall receive eternal 
life ; and I believe that this reward is not of debt, but of 
grace, even to the praise and glory of that grace, whereby 
He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Amen. 

I pretend not to accuracy in this hasty draught ; they are 
only outlines, which, if you please to retouch, and fill up at 
your leisure, I hope you will favour me with a sight of. I 
fear I have tired you shall only add my prayers, that the 
Lord may be with you, and crown your labours of love with 
success, that you may hereafter shine among those who have 
been instrumental in turning many to righteousness. 

I am, &c. 





THE account which I received by Mr. C- , and by 
the letter which he brought from you, of your welfare, and 
the welfare of your people, was very pleasing, though, indeed, 
no more than I expected. I believed, from the first of your 

going to S , that you would like the people, and I believed 

the Lord had given you that frame of spirit which He has 
promised to bless. What reason have we to praise Him for 
the knowledge of His Gospel, and for the honour of being 
called to preach it to others ; and, likewise, that He has been 
pleased to cast your lot and mine amongst a people who 
value it, and to crown our poor labours with some measure 
of acceptance and usefulness ! How little did we think, 
in the unawakened part of our life, to what it was His good 
pleasure to reserve us ! 

The Lord is pleased, in a measure, to show me the suitable 
ness and necessity of a humble, dependent frame of heart, 
a ceasing from self, and a reliance upon Him in the due use 
of appointed means ; I am far from having attained, but I 
hope I am pressing, at least seeking, after it. I wish to 
speak the word simply and experimentally, an<i ; to be so 
engaged with the importance of the subject, the worth of 
souls, and the thought that I am speaking in the name and 
presence of the Most High God, as that I might, if possible, 
forget everything else. This would be an attainment, 
indeed ! More good might be expected from a broken dis 
course, delivered in such a frame, than from the most 
advantageous display of knowledge and gifts without it. 



Not that I would undervalue propriety and pertinence of 
expression : it is our duty to study to find out acceptable 
words, and to endeavour to appear as workmen that need 
not be ashamed ; but those who have most ability in this 
way, have need of a double guard of grace and wisdom, lest 
they be tempted to trust in it, or to value themselves upon it. 
They that trust in the Lord shall never be moved ; and they 
that abase themselves before Him, He will exalt. I am 
well persuaded that your conduct and view have been agree 
able to these sentiments ; and, therefore, the Lord has sup 
ported, encouraged, and owned you ; and, I trust, He will 
still bless you, and make you a blessing to many. He that 
walketh humbly, walketh surely. 

Believe me to be, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, August 14, 1770. 

YOUR letter did me good when I received it, at least, 
gave me much pleasure ; and I think it has given me a lift 
while I have been just now reading it. I know not that I 
ever had those awful views of sin which you speak of ; and 
though, I believe, I should be better for them, I dare not 
seriously wish for them. There is a petition which I have 
heard in public prayer Lord, show us the evil of our hearts. 
To this petition I cannot venture to set my Amen, at least, 
not without a qualification. Show me enough of Thyself 
to balance the view, and then show me what Thou pleasest. 
I think I have a very clear and strong conviction, in my 
judgment, that I am vile and worthless, that my heart is 
full of evil, only evil, and that continually. I know some 
thing of it,, too, experimentally ; and, therefore, judging of 
the whole by the sample, though I am not suitably affected 
with what I do see, I tremble at the thought of seeing more. 
A man may look with some pleasure upon the sea in a storm, 
provided he stands safe upon the land himself ; but to be 
upon the sea in a storm is quite another thing. And yet, 
surely, the coldness, worldliness, pride, and twenty other 


evils under which I groan, owe much of their strength to the 
want of that feeling sense of my own abominations with 
which you have been favoured : I say, favoured ; for I 
doubt not but the Lord gave it you in mercy, and that it 
has proved, and will prove, a mercy to you, to make you more 
humble, spiritual, and dependent, as well as to increase 
your ability for preaching the Gospel of His grace. Upon 
these accounts, I can assure you that, upon a first reading, 
and till I stopped a moment to count the cost, I was ready 
to envy you all that you had felt. I often seem to know 
what the Scripture teaches, both of sin and grace, as if I knew 
them not ; so faint and languid are my perceptions, I often 
seem to think and talk of sin without any sorrow, and of 
grace without any joy. 

I have had some people awakened by dreams, as you had 
by streamers : but, for aught I know, we are no less in 
strumental to the good of these, than to any other person, 
upon whom, when we look, our hearts are ready to exult, 
and say, See what the Lord has done by me. I do not think 
that, strictly speaking, all the streamers of the north are 
able to awaken a dead soul. I suppose people may be 
terrified by them, and made thoughtful, but awakened only 
by the word. The streamers either sent them to hear the 
Gospel, or roused them to attend to it ; but it was the know 
ledge of the truth brought home to the heart that did the 
business. Perhaps the streamers reminded them of what 
they had heard from you before. Two persons here, who 
lived like heathens, and never came to church, were alarmed 
by some terrifying dreams, and came out to hearing forth 
with. There the Lord was pleased to meet witli them. One 
of them died triumphing ; the other, I hope, will do so when 
her time comes. Whatever rneans, instruments, or occasions 
He is pleased to employ, the work is all His own ; and, I 
trust, you and I are made willing to give Him all, the glory, 
and to sink into the dust at the thought that He should 
ever permit us to take His holy name upon our polluted lips. 

I am, &c. 



MY DEAR SIR, June 13, 1772. 

You say that your experience agrees with mine. It 
must be so, because our hearts are alike. The heart is 
deceitful and desperately wicked, destitute of good, and prone 
to evil. This is the character of mankind universally, and 
those who are made partakers of grace are renewed but in 
part ; the evil nature still cleaves to them, and the root of 
sin, though mortified, is far from being dead. While the 
cause remains, it will have effects ; and while we are bur 
dened with the body of this death, we must groan under it. 
But we need not be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow, 
since we have in Jesus a Saviour, a Righteousness, an Advo 
cate, a Shepherd. " He knows our frame, and remembers 
that we are but dust." If sin abounds in us, grace abounds 
much more in Him ; nor would He suffer sin to remain in 
His people, if He did not know how to overrule it, and make 
it an occasion of endearing His love and grace so much the 
more to their souls. The Lord forbid that we should plead 
His goodness as an encouragement to sloth and indifference. 
Humiliation, godly sorrow, and self-abasement become 
us ; but, at the same time, we may rejoice in the Lord. 
Though sin remains, it shall not have dominion over us ; 
though it wars in us, it shall not prevail against us. We 
have a mercy-seat sprinkled with blood, we have an Advo 
cate with the Father, we are called to this warfare, and 
we fight under the eye of the Captain of our salvation, 
who is always near to renew our strength, to heal our 
wounds, and to cover our heads in the heat of battle. As 
ministers, we preach to those who have like passions and 
infirmities with ourselves, and by our own feelings, fears, 
and changes, we learn to speak a word in season to them 
that are weary, to warn those who stand, and to stretch out 
a hand of compassion towards them that are fallen ; and to 
commend it to others from our own experience, as a faithful 
saying. Besides, if the Lord is pleased to give us some 
liberty, acceptance, and success in preaching the Gospel, 
we should be in great danger of running mad with spiritual 
pride, if the Lord did net permit us to feel the depravity and 


vileness of our hearts, and thereby keep us from forgetting 
what we are in ourselves. 

With regard to your young people, you must expect to 
meet with some disappointment. Perhaps, not every 
one of whom you have conceived hopes will stand, and 
some who do belong to the Lord are permitted to make 
sad mistakes for their future humiliation. It is our part 
to watch, warn, and admonish, and we ought, likewise, 
to be ^concerned for those slips and miscarriages which we 
cannot prevent. A minister, if faithful, and of a right 
spirit, can have no greater joy than to see his people walking 
honourably and steadily in the truth ; and hardly anything 
will give him more sensible grief, than to see any of them 
taken in Satan s wiles. Yet still the Gospel brings relief 
here. He is wiser than we are, and knows how to make 
those tilings subservient to promote his work, which we 
ought to guard against as evils and hindrances. We are 
to use the means He is to rule the whole. If the faults 
of some are made warnings to others, and prove, in the 
end, occasions of illustrating the riches of divine grace, 
this should reconcile us to what we cannot help, though 
such considerations should not slacken our diligence in 
sounding an alarm, and reminding our hearers of their 
continual danger. I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, January 26, 1775. 

I LATELY read a sermon of Mr. Baxter s (in the fifth 
volume of the Morning Exercises) on Matt. v. 16. My 
mind is somewhat impressed with the subject, and with 
his manner of treating it. Some of Mr. Baxter s senti 
ments in divinity are rather cloudy ; and he sometimes, 
upon that account, met with but poor quarter from the 
staunch Calvinists of his day. But, by what I have read 
of him, where he is quiet, and not ruffled by controversy, 
he appears to me, notwithstanding some mistakes, to have 
been one of the greatest men of hii, age, and, perhaps, in 


fervour, spirituality, and success, more than equal, both 
as a minister and a Christian, to some twenty taken to 
gether, of those who affect to undervalue him in this 
present da}\ There is a spirit in some passages of his 
Saint s Rest, his Dying Thoughts, and others of his practical 
treatises, compared with which, many modern compositions, 
though well written and well meant, appear to me to a 
great disadvantage. But I was speaking of his sermon. 
He points out the way at which we should aim to let our 
light shine in the world, for the glory of God, and the con 
viction and edification of men. I have mentioned where it 
is to be found, that, if you have the Moining Exercises, or 
they should come in your way, you may look at it. I think 
you would like it. The perusal suggested to me some 
instruction, and much reproof. Alas ! my friend, are we 
not too often chargeable with a sad, shameful selfishness 
and narrowness of spirit, far, very far different from that 
activity, enlargement, and generosity of soul, which such a 
Gospel as we have received might be expected to produce ? 
For myself, I must plead guilty. It seems as if my heart 
was always awake, and keenly sensible to my own concern 
ments, while those of my Lord and Master affect me much 
less forcibly, at least, only by intervals. Were a stranger 
to judge of me by what I sometimes say in the pulpit, he 
might think that, like the angels, I had but two things in 
view, to do the will of God, and to behold His face. But, 
alas ! would he not be almost as much mistaken, as if, 
seeing Mr. G - in the character of a tragedy-hero, he 
should suppose him to be the very person whom he only 
represents ? I hope Satan will never be able to persuade 
me that I am a mere hypocrite and stage-player ; but sure I 
am that there is so much hypocrisy in me, so many little 
nesses and self-seekings insinuating into my plan of conduct, 
that I have humbling cause to account myself unworthy 
and unprofitable, and to say, " Enter not into judgment 
with Thy servant, O Lord." I have some tolerable idea 
of what a Christian ought to be, and it is, I hope, what I 
desire to be. A Christian should be conformable to Christ 
in his spirit and in his practice ; that is, he should be 
spiritually minded, dead to the world, filled with zeal for 
the glory of God, the spread of the Gospel, and the good of 
c. N 


souls. He should be humble, patient, meek, cheerful, 
thankful under all events and changes. He should account 
it the business and honour of his life to imitate Him who 
pleased not Himself, Who went about doing good, and has 
expressed to us the very feelings of His heart, in that divine 
aphorism, which surpasses all the fine admired sayings 
of the philosophers, as much as the sun outshines a candle, 
" It is more blessed to give than to receive." The whole 
deportment of a Christian should show, that the knowledge 
of Jesus, which he has received from the Gospel, affords him 
all he could expect from it : a balm for every grief, an amend 
for every loss, a motive for every duty, a restraint from every 
evil, a pattern for everything which he is called to do or 
suffer, and a principle sufficient to constitute the actions of 
every day, even in common life, acts of religion. He should 
(as the children of this world are wise to do in their genera 
tion) make every occurrence through which he passes, 
subservient and subordinate to his main design. Gold is 
the worldly man s god, and his worship and service are 
uniform and consistent, not by fits and starts, but from 
morning to night ; from the beginning to the end of the 
year, he is the same man. He will not slip an opportunity 
of adding to his pelf to-day, because he may have another 
to-morrow, but he heartily and eagerly embraces both ; 
and, so far as he carries his point, though his perseverance 
may expose him to the ridicule or reproach of his neigh 
bours, he thinks himself well paid, and says, 

Populus me sibilat ; at mini plaudo 

Ipse domi, simul ac nummos contemplor area. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, Jan. 1776. 

I MAY learn (only I am a sad dunce) by small and com 
mon incidents, as well as by some more striking and import 
ant turns in life, that it is not in man that walketh to direct 


his steps. It is not for me to say, to-day or to-morrow, 
I will do this or that. I cannot write a letter to a friend 
without leave or without help ; for neither opportunity 
nor ability are at my own disposal. It is not needful that 
the Lord should raise a mountain in my way, to stop my 
purpose ; if He only withdraw a certain kind of impercept 
ible support, which in general I have and use without duly 
considering whose it is, then in a moment I feel myself 
unstrung and disabled, like a ship that has lost her masts, 
and cannot proceed till He is pleased to refit me and renew 
my strength. My pride and propensity to self-independence 
render frequent changes of this kind necessary to me, or I 
should soon forget what I am, and sacrifice to my own 
drag. Therefore, upon the whole, I am satisfied, and see it 
best, that I should be absolutely poor and penniless in 
myself, and forced to depend upon the Lord for the smallest 
things as well as the greatest. And if, by His blessing, my 
experience should at length tally with my judgment in 
this point, that without Him I can do nothing, then I 
know I shall find it easy, through Him, to do all tlu ngs ; 
for the door of His mercy is always open, and it is but ask 
and have. But, alas ! a secret persuasion (though contrary 
to repeated convictions) that I have something at home, 
too often prevents me going to Him for it, and then no 
wonder I am disappointed. The life of faith seems so 
simple and easy in theory, that I can point it out to others 
in few words ; but in practice it is very difficult, and my 
advances are so slow, that I hardly dare say I get forward at 
all. It is a great thing indeed to have the spirit of a little 
child, so as to be habitually afraid of taking a single step 
without leading. 

I have heard of you more than once since I heard from 
you, and am glad to know the Lord is still with you ; I 
trust He has not withdrawn wholly from us. We have much 
call for thankfulness, and much for humiliation. Some 
have been removed, some are evidently ripening for glory, 
and now and then we have a new inquirer. But the progress 
of wickedness amongst the unconverted here is awful. 
Convictions repeatedly stifled in many, have issued in a 
hardiness and boldness in sinning which, I believe, is 
seldom found but in those places where the light of the 

N 2 


Gospel has been long resisted and abused. If my eyes 
suitably affected my heart, I should weep day and night 
upon this account ; but alas ! I am too indifferent. I feel 
a woful defect in my zeal for God and compassion for souls ; 
and when Satan and conscience charge me with cowardice, 
treachery, and stupidity, I know not what to reply. I am 
generally carried through my public work with some 
liberty ; and because I am not put to shame before the 
people. I seem content and satisfied. I wish to be more 
thankful for what the Lord is pleased to do amongst us, but, 
at the same time, to be more earnest with Him for a further 
outpouring of His Spirit. Assist me therein with your 

As to my own private experience, the enemy is not 
suffered to touch the foundation of my faith and hope ; 
thus far I have peace. But my conflicts and exercises, 
with the effects of indwelling sin, are very distressing. 
I cannot doubt of my state and acceptance ; and yet it 
seems no one can have more cause for doubts and fears 
than myself, if such doubtings were at all encouraged by 
the Gospel ; but I see they are not ; I see that what I 
want and hope for, the Lord promises to do, for His own 
name s sake, and with a non obstante to all my vileness and 
perverseness ; and I cannot question but He has given me 
(for how else could I have it ?) a thirst for that communion 
with Him in love, and conformity to His image, of which, 
as yet, I have experienced but very faint and imperfect 
beginnings. But if He has begun, I venture, upon His 
word, that He will not forsake the work of His own hands. 

On public affairs I say but little. Many are censuring 
men and measures ; but I would lay all the blame upon sin. 
It appears plain to me that the Lord has a controversy with 
us ; and, therefore, I fear what we have yet seen is but the 
beginning of sorrows. I am ready to dread the event of 
this summer ; but I remember the Lord reigns. He has 
His own glory and the good of His church in view, and will 
not be disappointed. He knows how likewise to take care 
of those who fear Him. I wish there were more sighing and 
mourning amongst professors, for the sins of the nation and 
the churches. But I must conclude, and am, &c. 



No very considerable alteration has taken place since 

I wrote, except the death of Mrs. L , who was removed 

to a better world in September last. The latter part of her 
course was very painful ; but the Lord made her more 
than conqueror, and she had good cause to apply the 
apostle s words, 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. She repeated that passage 
in her last illness, and chose it for her funeral-text. She 
was a Christian indeed. Her faith was great, and so were 
her trials. Now she is above them all, now she is before 
the throne. The good Lord help us to be followers of those 
who through faith and patience have attained to the hope 
set before them. 

The number of professors still increases with us, and a 
greater number of persons affords a greater variety of cases, 
and gives greater scope to observe the workings of the heart 
and Satan. For seven years I had to say that I had not 
seen a person of whom I had conceived a good hope go back, 
but I have met with a few disappointments since. However, 
upon the whole, I trust the Lord is still with us. The 
enemy tries to disturb and defile us, and if the Lord did not 
keep the city, the poor watchman would wake in vain. But 
the eye that never slumbereth nor sleepeth has been upon 
us for good ; and though we have cause of humiliation and 
complaint, we have likewise much cause of thankfulness. 
My health is still preserved ; and I hope that the Lord does 
not suffer my desires of personal communion with Him, 
and of usefulness in the ministry, to decline. He supplies 
me with fresh strength and matter in my public work ; 
I hear now and then of one brought to inquire the way : and 
His presence is at times made known to many in the 

To combine zeal with prudence is indeed difficult. There 
is often too much self in our zeal, and too much of the fear 
of man in our prudence. However, what we cannot attain 
by any skill or resolution of our own, we may hope in 
measure to receive from Him who giveth liberally to those 
who seek Him, and desire to serve Him. Prudence is a 
word much abused ; but there is a Heavenly wisdom, which 


the Lord has promised to give to those who humbly wait 
upon Him for it. It does not consist in forming a bundle 
of rules and maxims, but in a spiritual taste and discern 
ment, derived from an experimental knowledge of the truth, 
and of the heart of man, as described in the word of God ; 
and its exercise consists much in a simple dependence upon 
the Lord, to guide and prompt us in every action. We 
seldom act wrong, when we truly depend upon Him, and 
can caase from leaning to our own understanding. When 
the heart is thus in a right tune and frame, and His word 
dwells richly in us, there is a kind of immediate perception of 
what is proper for us to do in present circumstances, without 
much painful inquiry ; a light shines before us upon the 
path of duty ; and if He permits us in such a spirit to make 
some mistakes, He will likewise teach us to profit by them ; 
and our reflections upon what was wrong one day, will 
make us to act more wisely the next. At the best, we must 
always expect to meet with new proofs of our own weakness 
and insufficiency ; otherwise how should we be kept humble, 
or know how to prize the liberty He allows us of coming to 
the throne of grace, for fresh forgiveness and direction every 
day ? But if He enables us to walk before Him with a 
single eye, He will graciously accept our desire of serving 
Him better if we could, and His blessing will make our feeble 
endeavours in some degree successful, at the same time that 
we see defects and evils attending our best services, sufficient 
to make us ashamed of them. I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, January u, 1777. 

WE all need, and at the seasons the Lord sees best, 
we all receive chastisement. I hope you likewise have 
reason to praise Him, for supporting, sanctifying, and 
delivering mercy. The coward flesh presently sinks under 
the rod, but Faith need not fear it, for it is in the hand of 
One who loves us better than we do ourselves, and who 


knows our frame, that we are but dust, and therefore will 
not suffer us to be overdone and overwhelmed. 

I feel as a friend should feel for Mr. B - ; were 
I able, I would soon send him health. If the Lord, who is 
able to remove his illness in a minute, permits it to continue, 
we may be sure, upon the whole, it will be better for him. 
It is, however, very lawful to pray that his health may be 
restored, and his usefulness prolonged. I beg you to give 
my love to him, and tell him that my heart bears him an 
affectionate remembrance ; and I know the God whom he 
serves will make every dispensation supportable and profit 
able to him. 

If, as you observe, the Song of Solomon describes the 
experience of his church, it shows the dark as well as the 
bright side. No one part of it is the experience of every 
individual at any particular time. Some are in his banquet- 
ing-house, others upon their beds. Some sit under His 
banner, supported by His arm ; while others have a faint 
perception of Him at a distance, with many a hill and moun 
tain between. In one thing, however, they all agree, that 
He is the leading object of their desires, and that they have 
had such a discovery of His person, work, and love, as 
makes Him precious to their hearts. Their judgment of Him 
is always the same, but their sensibility varies. The love 
they bear Him, though rooted and grounded in their hearts, 
is not always equally in exercise, nor can it be so. We are 
like trees, which, though alive, cannot put forth their 
leaves and fruit without the influence of the sun. They 
are alive in winter as well as in summer ; but how different 
is their appearance in these different seasons ! Were we 
always alike, could we always believe, love, and rejoice, 
we should think the power inherent and our own ; but it ii 
more for the Lord s glory, and more suited to form us to a 
temper becoming the Gospel, that we should be made deeply 
sensible of our own inability and dependence, than that we 
should be always in a lively frame. I am persuaded, a 
broken and a contrite spirit, a conviction of our vileness 
and nothingness, connected with a cordial acceptance of 
Jesus as revealed in the Gospel, is the highest attainment we 
can reach in this life. Sensible comforts are desirable, 
and we must be sadlv declined when they do not appear to 


us ; but I believe there may be a real exercise of faith and 
growth in grace when our sensible feelings are faint and low. 
A soul may be in as thriving a state when thirsting, seeking, 
and mourning after the Lord, as when actually rejoicing in 
Him ; as much in earnest when fighting in the valley, as 
when singing upon the mount ; nay, dark seasons afford the 
surest and strongest manifestations of the power of faith. 
To hold fast the word of promise, to maintain a hatred of 
sin, togo on steadfastly in the path of duty, in defiance both 
of the frowns and the smiles of the world, when we have but 
little comfort, is a more certain evidence of grace, than a 
thousand things which we may do or forbear when our 
spirits are warm and lively. I have seen many who have 
been upon the whole but uneven walkers, though at times 
they have seemed to enjoy, at least have talked of, great 
comforts. I have seen others, for the most part, complain of 
much darkness and coldness, who have been remarkably 
humble, tender, and exemplary in their spirit and conduct. 
Surely were I to choose my lot, it should be with the latter. 

I am, &c. 





MADAM, June 20, 1776. 

IT would be both unkind and ungrateful in me, to avail 
myself of any plea of business, for delaying the acknowledg 
ment I owe you for your acceptable favour from , 

which, though dated the 6th instant, I did not receive till 
the loth. 

Could I have known in time that you were at Mr. s, 

I should have endeavoured to have called upon you while 
there ; and very glad should I have been to have seen you 
with us. But they who fear the Lord may be sure, that 
whatever is not practicable is not necessary. He could 
have overruled every difficulty in your way, had He seen it 
expedient ; but He is pleased to show you, that you depend 
not upon them, but upon Himself ; and that, notwith 
standing your connections may exclude you from some 
advantages in point of outward means, He who has begun a 
good work in you, is able to carry it on, in defiance of all 
seeming hindrances, and make all things (even those which 
have the most unfavourable appearances) work together 
for your good. 

A sure effect of His grace, is a desire and longing for 
Gospel ordinances ; and when they are afforded, they 
cannot be neglected without loss. But the Lord sees many 
souls who are dear to Him, and whom He is training up in 
a growing meetness for His kingdom, who are, by His 
providence, so situated, that it is not in their power to attend 
upon Gospel preaching ; and, perhaps, they have seldom 



either Christian minister or Christian friend to assist or 
comfort them. Such a situation is a state of trial ; but Jesus 
is all-sufficient, and He is always near. They cannot be 
debarred from His word of grace, which is everywhere at 
hand, nor from His throne of grace ; for they who feel their 
need of Him, and whose hearts are drawn towards Him, 
are always at the foot of it. Every room in the house, yea, 
every spot they stand on, fields, lanes, and hedge-rows, 
all is Jioly ground to them ; for the Lord is there. The 
chief difference between us and the disciples, when our 
Saviour was upon earth, is in this : they then walked by 
sight, and we are called to walk by faith. They could see 
Him with their bodily eyes, we cannot ; but He said, before 
He left them, " It is expedient for you that I go away." 
How could this be, unless that spiritual communion, which 
He promised to maintain with His people after his ascension, 
were preferable to that intercourse He allowed them whilst 
He was visibly with them ? But we are sure it is pre 
ferable, and they who had tried both were well satisfied 
He had made good His promise ; so that though they had 
known Him after the flesh, they were content not to know 
Him so any more. Yes, Madam, though we cannot see 
Him, he sees us ; He is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. 
In a natural state, we have very dark, and indeed, dishon 
ourable thoughts of God ; we conceive of Him as at a dis 
tance. But when the heart is awakened, we begin to make 
Jacob s reflection, " Surely the Lord is in this place, and I 
knew it not." And when we receive faith, we begin to 
know that this ever-present God is in Christ ; that the 
government of heaven and earth, the dispensations of the 
kingdom of nature, providence, and grace, are in the hands 
of Jesus : that it is He with whom we have to do, who once 
suffered agony and death for our redemption, and whose com 
passion and tenderness are the same, now He reigns over all 
blessed for ever, as when He conversed amongst men in the 
days of His humiliation. Thus God is made known to us 
by the Gospel, in the endearing views of a Saviour, a Shep 
herd, a Husband, a Friend ; and a way of access is opened 
for us through the vail, that is, the human nature of our 
Redeemer, to enter, with humble confidence, into the holiest 
of all, and to repose all our cares and concerns upon the 


strength of that everlasting arm which upholds Heaven 
and earth, and upon that infinite love which submitted to 
the shame, pain, and death of the cross, to redeem sinners 
from wrath and misery. 

Though there is a height, a breadth, a length, and a depth, 
in this mystery of redeeming love, exceeding the compre 
hension of all finite minds ; yet the great and leading 
principles which are necessary for the support and comfort 
of our souls, may be summed up in a very few words. Such 
a summary we are favoured with in Titus ii. 11-14, where 
the whole of salvation, all that is needful to be known, 
experienced, practised, and hoped for, is comprised within 
the compass of four verses. If many books, much study, 
and great discernment, were necessary, in order to be happy, 
what must the poor and simple do ? Yet for them especially 
is the Gospel designed ; and few but such as these attain 
the knowledge and comfort of it. The Bible is a sealed 
book till the heart be awakened ; and then he that runs may 
read. The propositions are few. I am a sinner, therefore, 
I need a Saviour, one who is able and willing to save to the 
uttermost ; such a one is Jesus ; He is all that I want- 
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But 
will He receive me ? Can I answer a previous question ? 
Am I willing to receive Him ? If so, and if His word may 
be taken, if He meant what He said, and promised no more 
than He can perform, I may be sure of a welcome ; He knew, 
long before, the doubts, fears, and suspicions, which would 
arise in my mind when I should come to know what I am, 
what I have done, and what I have deserved ; and, therefore, 
He declared, before He left the earth, " Him that cometh 
to Me, I will in no wise cast out." I have no money or 
price in my hand, no worthiness to recommend me ; and I 
need none, for He saveth freely for His own name s sake. 
I have only to be thankful for what He has already shown 
me, and to wait upon Him for more. It is my part to com 
mit myself to Him as the physician of sin-sick souls, not 
to prescribe to Him how He shall treat me. To begin, carry 
on, and perfect the cure, is His part. 

The doubts and fears you speak of, are in a greater or 
lesser degree, the common experience of all the Lord s people, 
at least for a time ; whilst any unbelief remains in the 


heart, and Satan is permitted to tempt, we shall feel these 
things. In themselves they are groundless and evil ; yet 
the Lord permits and overrules them for good. They tend 
to make us know more of the plague of our own hearts, and 
feel more sensibly the need of a Saviour, and make His rest 
(when we attain it) doubly sweet and sure. And they 
likewise qualify us for pitying and comforting others. 
Fear not ; only believe, wait, and pray. Expect not all at 
once. A Christian is not of hasty growth, like a mushroom, 
but rather like the oak, the progress of which is hardly 
perceptible, but, in time, becomes a great deep-rooted tree. 
If my writings have been useful to you, may the Lord have 
the praise. To administer any comfort to His children is 
the greatest honour and pleasure I can receive in this life. 
I cannot promise to be a very punctual correspondent, 
having many engagements ; but I hope to do all in my power 
to show myself, Madam, Yours, &c. 


MADAM, August 20, 1776. 

THOUGH, in general, I think myself tolerably punctual 
when I can answer a letter in six or seven weeks after the 
receipt, yet I feel some pain for not having acknowledged 
yours sooner. A case like that which you have favoured 
with an account of, deserved an immediate attention, and 
when I read it, I proposed writing within a post or two ; and 
I can hardly allow any plea of business to be sufficient 
excuse for delaying it so long ; but our times are in the Lord s 
hands : may He now enable me to send you what may 
prove a word in season. 

Your exercises have been by no means singular, though 
they may appear so to yourself ; because, in your retired 
situation, you have not (as you observe) had much oppor 
tunity of knowing the experience of other Christians ; nor 
has the guilt with which your mind has been so greatly 
burdened been properly your own. It was a temptation 
forced upon you by the enemy, and he shall answer for it. 


Undoubtedly it is a mournful proof of the depravity of our 
nature, that there is that within us which renders us so 
easily susceptive of his suggestions ; a proof of our extreme 
weakness, that after the clearest and most satisfying evi 
dences of the truth, we are not able to hold fast our confidence, 
if the Lord permits Satan to sift and shake us. But I can 
assure you these changes are not uncommon. I have known 
persons, who, after walking with God comfortably, in the 
main, for forty years, have been at their wits end from such 
assaults as you mention, and been brought to doubt, not 
only of the reality of their own hopes, but of the very ground 
and foundation upon which their hopes were built. Had 
you remained, as it seems you once were, attached to 
the vanities of a gay and dissipated life, or could you have 
been contented with a form of godliness, destitute of the 
power, it is probable you would have remained a stranger to 
these troubles. Satan would have employed his arts in a 
different and less perceptible way, to have soothed you into 
a false peace, and prevented any thought or suspicion of 
danger from arising in your mind. But when he could no 
longer detain you in his bondage, or seduce you back again 
into the world, then, of course, he would change his method, 
and declare open war against you. A specimen of his power 
and malice you have experienced : and the Lord whom you 
loved, because He first loved you, permitted it, not to gratify 
Satan, but for your benefit to humble and prove you, to 
show you what is in your heart, and to do you good in the 
issue. These things, for the present, are not joyous, but 
grievous ; yet, in the end, they yield the peaceable fruits of 
righteousness. In the mean time His eye is upon you ; 
He has appointed bounds both to the degree and the duration 
of the trial ; and He does and will afford you such support 
that you shall not be tried beyond what you are enabled to 
bear. I doubt not but your conflicts and sorrows will, in 
due time, terminate in praise and victory, and be sanctified 
to your fuller establishment in the truth. 

I greatly rejoice in the Lord s goodness to your dying 
parent. How wisely timed, and how exactly suited, was 
that affecting dispensation, to break the force of those 
suggestions with which the enemy was aiming to overwhelm 
your spirit ! He could not stand against such an illustrious 


demonstrative attestation, that the doctrines you had 
embraced were not cunningly-devised fables. He could 
proreed no farther in that way ; but He is fruitful in re 
sources. His next attempt, of course, was to fix guilt upon 
your conscience, as if you had yourself formed, and willingly 
entertained, those thoughts, which, indeed, you suffered 
with extreme reluctance and pain. Here, likewise, I 
find he succeeded for a time ; but He who broke the former 
snare, will deliver you from this likewise. 

The dark and dishonourable thoughts of God, which I 
hinted at as belonging to a natural state, are very different 
from the thoughts of your heart concerning Him. You do 
not conceive of Him as a hard Master, or think you could be 
more happy in the breach than in the observance of His 
precepts. You do not prefer the world to His favour, or 
think you can please Him, and make amends for your sins, 
by an obedience of your own. These, and such as these, are 
the thoughts of the natural heart the very reverse of yours. 
One thought, however, I confess you have indulged, which is 
no less dishononrable to the Lord than uncomfortable to 
yourself. You say, " I dare not believe that God will not 
impute to me as sin, the admission of thoughts which my 
soul ever abhorred, and to which my will never consented." 
Nay, you fear lest they should not only be imputed, but 
unpardonable. But how can this be possible ? Indeed 
I will not call it your ttwught, it is your temptation. You 
tell me you have children. Then you will easily feel a plain 
illustration, wliich just now occurs to me. Let me suppose 
a case which has sometimes happened : a child three or 
four years of age, we will say, while playing incautiously 
at a little distance from home, should be suddenly seized and 
carried away by a gipsy. Poor thing ! how terrified, how 
distressed must it be ! Methinks I hear its cries. The 
sight and violence of the stranger, the recollection of its dear 
parents, the loss of its pleasing home, the dread and uncer 
tainty of what is yet to befal it. Is it not a wonder that it 
does not die in agonies ? But see, help is at hand ! the gipsy 
is pursued, and the child recovered. Now, my dear Madam, 
permit me to ask you, if this were your child, how would you 
receive it ? Perhaps, when the first transports of your joy 
for its safety would permit you, you might gently chide it 


for leaving your door. But would you disinherit it ? 
Would you disown it ? Would you deliver it up again to the 
gipsy with your own hands, because it had suffered a violence 
which it could not withstand, which it abhorred, and to which 
its witt never consented ? And yet what is the tenderness of 
a mother, of ten thousand mothers, to that which our 
compassionate Saviour bears to every poor soul that has 
been enabled to flee to Him for salvation ? Let us be far 
from charging that to Him, of which we think we are utterly 
incapable ourselves. Take courage, Madam ; resist the 
devil and he will flee from you. If he were to tempt you to 
anything criminal you would start at the thought, and re 
nounce it with abhorrence. Do the same when he tempts 
you to question the Lord s compassion and goodness. But 
there he imposes upon us with a show of humility, and 
persuades us that we do well to oppose our unworthiness 
as a sufficient exception to the many express promises of 
the word. It is said, the blood of Jesus cleanse th from all 
sin ; that all manner of sin shall be forgiven for its sake ; that 
whoever cometh He will in no wise cast out ; and that 
He is able to save to the uttermost. Believe His word, 
and Satan shall be found a liar. If the child had deliberately 
gone away with the gipsy, had preferred that wretched way 
of life, had refused to return, though frequently and tenderly 
invited home ; perhaps its parent s love might, in time, be 
too weak for the pardon of such continued obstinacy. But, 
indeed, in this manner we have all dealt with the Lord ; 
and yet, whenever we are willing to return, He is willing 
to receive us with open arms, and without an upbraiding 
word, Luke xv. 20-22. Though our sins have been deep- 
dyed with scarlet and crimson, enormous as mountains, 
and countless as the sands, the sum total is, sin has abounded ; 
but where sin hath abounded, grace has much more abounded. 
After all, I know the Lord keeps the key of comfort in His 
own hands, yet He has commanded us to attempt comforting 
one another. I should rejoice to be His instrument of ad 
ministering comfort to you. I shall hope to hear from you 
soon ; and that you will then be able to inform me He has 
restored to you the joys of His salvation. But if not, yet 
wait for Him, and you shall not wait in vain. 

I am, &c., 



MY DEAR MADAM, June 1777. 

TEMPTATIONS may be compared to the wind, which, 
when it has ceased raging from one point, after a short calm, 
frequently renews its violence from another quarter. The 
Lord silenced Satan s former assaults against you, but he is 
permitted to try you again in another way. Be of good 
courage, Madam : wait upon the Lord, and the present storm 
shall likewise subside in good time. You have an infallible 
Pilot, and are embarked in a bottom against which the winds 
and waves cannot prevail ; you may be tossed about, and 
think yourself in apparent jeopardy, but sink you shall not, 
except the promises and faithfulness of God can fail. Upon 
an attentive consideration of your complaint, it seems to me 
to amount only to this, that though the Lord has done great 
things for you, He has not yet brought you to a state of 
dependence on Himself, nor released you from that impossi 
bility, which all His people feel, of doing anything without 
Him. And is this indeed a matter of complaint ? Is it not 
every way better, more for His glory, and more suited to 
keep us mindful of our obligations to Him, and in the event 
more for our safety, that we should be reduced to a happy 
necessity of receiving daily out of His fulness (as the Israel 
ites received the manna) than to be set up with something 
of a stock of wisdom, power, and goodness of our own ? 
Adam was thus furnished at the beginning with strength to 
stand ; yet, mutability being essential to a creature, he 
quickly fell and lost all. We, who are by nature sinners, are 
not left to so hazardous an experiment. He has Himself 
engaged to keep us, and treasured up all fulness of grace for 
our support, in a Head who cannot fail. Our gracious 
Saviour will communicate all needful supplies to His mem 
bers, yet in such a manner that they shall feel their need and 
weakness, and have nothing to boast of from first to last, 
but His wisdom, compassion, and care. \Ve are in no worse 
circumstances than the apostle Paul, who, though eminent 
and exemplary in the Christian life, found, and freely con 
fessed, that he had no sufficiency in himself to think a good 
thought. Nor did he wish it otherwise ; he even gloried in 


his infirmities, that the power of Christ might rest upon 
him. Unbelief, and a thousand evils, are still in our hearts : 
though their reign and dominion is at an end, they are not 
slain or eradicated ; their effects will be felt more or less 
sensibly, as the Lord is pleased more or less to afford or 
abate His gracious influence. When they are kept down, 
we are no better in ourselves, for they are not kept down by 
us ; but we are very prone to think better of ourselves at 
such a time, and therefore He is pleased to permit us at 
seasons to feel a difference, that we may never forget how 
weak and how vile we are. We cannot absolutely conquer 
these evils, but it becomes us to be humbled for them ; 
and we are to fight, and strive, and pray against them. Our 
great duty is to be at His footstool, and to cry to Him who 
has promised to perform all things for us. Why are we called 
soldiers, but because we are called to a warfare ? And 
how could we fight, if there were no enemies to resist ? 
The Lord s soldiers are not merely for show, to make an empty 
parade in a uniform, and to brandish their arms when none 
but friends and spectators are around them. No, we 
must stand upon the field of battle ; we must face the fiery 
darts ; we must wrestle (which is the closest and most 
arduous kind of fighting) with our foes ; nor can we well 
expect wholly to escape wounds : but the leaves of the tree 
of life are provided for their healing. The Captain of our 
salvation is at hand, and leads us on with an assurance, which 
might make even a coward bold that in the end we shall 
be more than conquerors through Him who has loved us. 

I am ready to think, that some of the sentiments in your 
letters are not properly yours, such as you yourself have de 
rived from the Scriptures, but rather borrowed from authors 
or preachers, whose judgments your humility has led you to 
prefer to your own. At least I am sure the Scripture does 
not authorize the conclusion which distresses you, that if 
you were a child of God you should not feel such changes 
and oppositions. Were I to define a Christian, or rather to 
describe him at large, I know no text I would choose sooner 
as a ground for the subject, than Gal. v. 17. A Christian 
has noble aims, which distinguish him from the bulk" of 
mankind. His leading principles, motives, and desires, are 
all supernatural and divine. Could he do as he would, there 
c. o 


is not a spirit before the throne should excel him in holiness, 
love, and obedience. He would tread in the very footsteps 
of his Saviour, fill up every moment in His service, and 
employ every breath in His praise. This he would do, but, 
alas ! he cannot. Against this desire of the spirit, there 
is a contrary desire and working of a corrupt nature, which 
meets him at every turn. He has a beautiful copy set before 
him : he is enamoured with it, and though he does not ex 
pect to equal it, he writes carefully after it, and longs to at 
tain to the nearest possible imitation. But indwelling sin 
and Satan continually jog his hand, and spoil his strokes. 
You cannot, Madam, form a right judgment of yourself, 
except you make due allowance for those things which are 
not peculiar to yourself, but common to all who have spiritual 
perception, and are indeed the inseparable appendages of 
this mortal state. If it were not so, why should the most 
spiritual and gracious people be so ready to confess them 
selves vile and worthless ? One eminent branch of our 
holiness is a sense of shame and humiliation for those evils 
which are only known to ourselves, and to Him who searches 
our hearts, joined with an acquiescence in Jesus, who is 
appointed of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, 
and redemption. I will venture to assure you, that thougli 
you will possess a more stable peace, in proportion as the 
Lord enables you to live more simply upon the blood, right 
eousness, and grace of the Mediator, you will never grow 
into a better opinion of yourself than you have at present. 
The nearer you are brought to Him, the quicker sense you 
will have of your continual need of Him, and thereby your 
admiration of His power, love, and compassion, will increase 
likewise from year to year. 

I would observe farther, that our spiritual exercises 
are not a little influenced by our constitutional temperament. 
As you are only an ideal correspondent, I can but conjecture 
about you upon this head. If your frame is delicate, and 
your nervous system very sensible and tender, I should 
probably ascribe some of your apprehensions to this cause. 
It is an abstruse subject, and I will not enter into it ; but 
according to the observations I have made, persons of this 
habit seem to live more upon the confines of the invisible 
world, if I may so speak, and to be more susceptive of 


impressions from it, than others. That complaint which, 
for want of a better name, we call lowness of spirits, may 
probably afford the enemy some peculiar advantages and 
occasions of distressing you. The mind then perceives 
objects as through a tinctured medium, which gives them a 
dark and discouraging appearance ; and I believe Satan has 
more influence and address than we are aware of in managing 
the glass. And when this is not the case at all times, it may 
be so occasionally, from sickness, or other circumstances. 
You tell me that you have lately been ill, which, together 
with your present situation, and the prospect of your ap 
proaching hour, may probably have such an effect as I have 
hinted. You may be charging yourself with guilt, for what 
springs from indisposition, in which you are merely passive, 
and which may be no more properly sinful, than the headache 
or any of the thousand natural shocks the flesh is heir to. 
The enemy can take no advantage but what the Lord per 
mits him ; and He will permit him none but what He 
designs to overrule for your greater advantage in the end. 
He delights in your prosperity ; and you should not be in 
heaviness for an hour, were there not a need-be for it. 
Notwithstanding your fears, I have a good hope, that He 
who you say has helped you in six troubles, will appear for 
you in the seventh ; that you will not die, but live and 
declare the works of the Lord, and come forth to testify to 
His praise, that He has turned your mourning into joy. 

I am, &c. 





DEAR MADAM, October 3, 1778. 

You would have me tell you what are the best means 
to be used by a young person, to prevent the world, with all 
its opening and ensnaring scenes, from drawing the heart 
aside from God. It is an important question : but I appre 
hend your own heart will tell you, that you are already 
possessed of all the information concerning it which you can 
well expect from me. I could only attempt to answer it 
from the Bible, which lies open to you likewise. If your 
heart is like mine, it must confess, that when it turns aside 
from God, it is seldom through ignorance of the proper means 
or motives which should have kept us near Him, but rather 
from an evil principle within, which prevails against our 
better judgment, and renders us unfaithful to light already 

I could offer you rules, cautions, and advices in abundance ; 
for I find it comparatively easy to preach to others. But 
if you should further ask me, how you shall effectually 
reduce them to practice, I feel that I am so deficient, and 
so much at a loss in this matter myself, that I know not well 
what to say to you. Yet something must be said. 

In the first place, then, I would observe, that though it 
be our bounden duty, and the highest privilege we can 
propose to ourselves, to have our hearts kept close to the 
Lord ; yet we must not expect it absolutely or perfectly, 
much less all at once ; we shall keep close to Him, in pro 
portion as we are solidly convinced of the infinite disparity 



between Him and the things which would presume to stand in 
competition with Him, and the folly, as well as ingratitude, 
of departing from Him. But these points are only to be 
learned by experience, and by smarting under a series of 
painful disappointments in our expectations from creatures. 
Our judgments may be quickly satisfied that His favour is 
better than life, while yet it is in the power of a mere trifle 
to turn us aside. The Lord permits us to feel our weakness, 
that we may be sensible of it ; for though we are ready in 
words to confess that we are weak, we do not properly know 
it, till that secret, though unallowed, dependence we have 
upon some strength in ourselves, is brought to the trial and 
fails us. To be humble, and like a little child, afraid of 
taking a step alone, and so conscious of snares and dangers 
around us as to cry to Him continually to hold us up that 
we may be safe, is the sure, the infallible, the only secret of 
walking closely with Him. 

But how shall we attain this humble frame of spirit ? It 
must be, as I said, from a real and sensible conviction of our 
weakness and vileness, which we cannot learn (at least I have 
not been able to learn it) merely from books or preachers. 
The providence of God concurs with His Holy Spirit, in His 
merciful design of making us acquainted with ourselves. 
It is, indeed, a great mercy to be preserved from such de 
clensions as might fall under the notice of our fellow-crea 
tures ; but when they can observe nothing of consequence to 
object to us, things may be far from right with us in the sight 
of Him who judges not only actions, but the thoughts and 
first motions of the heart. And indeed could we for a season 
so cleave to God as to find little or nothing in ourselves to 
be ashamed of, we are such poor creatures, that we should 
presently grow vain and self-sufficient, and expose ourselves 
to the greatest danger of falling. 

There are, however, means to be observed on our part ; 
and though you know them, I will repeat the principal, 
because you desire me. The first is prayer : and here, 
above all things, we should pray for humility. It may 
be called both the guard of all other graces, and the soil in 
which they grow. The second, attention to the Scripture. 
Your question is directly answered in Psalm cxix. 9. The 
precepts are our rule and delight, the promises our strength 


and encouragement ; the good recorded of the saints is 
proposed for our encouragement ; their miscarriages are as 
landmarks set up to warn us of the rocks and shoals which 
lie in the way of our passage. The study of the whole 
scheme of Gospel-salvation, respecting the person, life, 
doctrine, death, and glory of our Redeemer, is appointed to 
form our souls to a spiritual and divine taste ; and so far as 
this prevails and grows in us, the trifles that would draw us 
from the Lord will lose their influence, and appear divested 
of the glare with which they strike the senses, mere vanity 
and nothing. The third grand means is, consideration of 
recollection, a careful regard to those temptations and snares 
to which, from our tempers, situations, or connexions, we are 
more immediately exposed, and by which we have been for 
merly hindered. It may be well in the morning, ere we leave 
our chambers, to forecast, as far as we are able, the probable 
circumstances of the day before us. Yet the observance of 
this, as well as of every rule that can be offered, may dwindle 
into a mere form. However, I trust the Lord, who has 
given you a desire to live to Him, will be your Guard and 
Teacher. There is none that teacheth like Him. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR MADAM, March 1779- 

OUR experiences pretty much tally ; they may be drawn 
out into sheets and quires, but the sum total may be com 
prised in a short sentence, " Our life is a warfare." For our 
encouragement the apostle calls it a good warfare. We are 
engaged in a good cause, fight under a good Captain, the 
victory is sure beforehand, and the prize is a crown, a 
crown of life. Such considerations might make even a 
coward bold. But then we must be content to fight ; and 
considering the nature, number, situation, and subtlety of 
our enemies, we may expect sometimes to receive a wound ; 
but there is a medicinal tree, the leaves of which are always 
at hand to heal us. We cannot be too attentive to the evil 


which is always working in us, or to the stratagems which 
are employed against us ; yet our attention should not be 
wholly confined to these things. We are to look upwards 
likewise to Him, who is our Head, our Life, our Strength. 
One glance of Jesus will convey more effectual assistance 
than poring upon our own hearts for a month. The one is 
to be done, but the other should upon no account be omitted. 
It was not by counting their wounds, but by beholding the 
brazen serpent, the Lord s instituted means of cure, that the 
Israelites were healed. That was an emblem for our instruc 
tion. One great cause of our frequent conflicts is, that we 
have a secret desire to be rich, and it is the Lord s design to 
make us poor. We want to gain an ability of doing some 
thing ; and He suits His dispensations, to convince us that 
we can do nothing. We want a stock in ourselves, and He 
would have us absolutely dependent upon Him. So far as 
we are content to be weak, that His power may be magnified 
in us, so far we shall make our enemies know that we are 
strong, though we ourselves shall never be directly sensible 
that we are so ; only by comparing what we are, with the 
opposition we stand against, we may come to a comfortable 
conclusion, that the Lord worketh mightily in us (Psa. xli. n). 
If our views are simple, and our desires towards the Lord, 
it may be of use to consider some of your faults and mine, 
not as the faults of you and me in particular, but as the fault 
of that depraved nature, which is common with us to all the 
Lord s people, and which made Paul groan as feelingly and 
as heartily as we can do. But this consideration, though 
true and Scriptural, can only be safely applied when the mind 
is sincerely, and in good earnest, devoted to the Lord. 
There are too many unsound and half professors, who eagerly 
catch at it, as an excuse for those evils they are unwilling to 
part with. But I trust I may safely recommend it to you. 
This evil nature, this indwelling sin, is a living principle, 
an active, powerful cause ; and a cause that is active will 
necessarily produce an effect. Sin is the same thing in 
believers as in the unregenerate ; they have, indeed, a con 
trary principle of grace, which counteracts and resists it, 
which can prevent its outbreakings, but will not suppress 
its risings. As grace resists sin, so sin resists grace, Gal. v. 17. 
The proper tendency of each is mutually weakened on both 


sides ; and, between the two, the poor believer, however 
blameless and exemplary in the sight of men, appears, in 
his own view, the most inconsistent character under the sun. 
He can hardly think it is so with others ; and, judging of 
them by what he sees, and of himself by what he feels, in 
lowliness of heart, he esteems others better than himself. 
This proves him to be right ; for it is the will of God concern 
ing him, Phil. ii. 3. This is the warfare. But it shall not 
always be so. Grace shall prevail. The evil nature is 
already enervated, and ere long it shall die the death. Jesus 
will make us more than conquerors. 

I am, &c. 



MR. A B- 


DEAR SIR, 1758. 

I SUPPOSE you will receive many congratulations on 
your recovery from your late dangerous illness ; most of 
them, perhaps, more sprightly and better turned, but none, 
I persuade myself, more sincere and affectionate than mine. 
I beg you would prepare yourself by this good opinion of 
me, before you read further ; and let the reality of my regard 
excuse what you may dislike in my manner of expressing it. 

When a person is returned from a doubtful distant voy 
age, we are naturally led to inquire into the incidents he has 
met with, and the discoveries he has made. Indulge me in 
a curiosity of this kind, especially as my affection gives me 
an interest and concern in the event. You have been, my 
friend, upon the brink, the very edge, of an eternal state ; 
but God has restored you back to the world again. Did you 
meet with, or have you brought back, nothing new ? Did 
nothing occur to stop or turn your usual train of thought ? 
Were your apprehensions of invisible things exactly the same 
in the height of your disorder, when you were cut off from 
the world and all its engagements, as when you were in perfect 
health, and in the highest enjoyment of your own inclina 
tions ? If you answer me, " Yes, all things are just the same 
as formerly, the difference between sickness and health 
only excepted," I am at a loss how to reply. I can only 
sigh and wonder ; sigh, that it should be thus with any, that 
it should be thus with you, whom I dearly love ; and 
wonder, since this unhappy case, strange as it seems in one 
view, is yet so frequent, why it was not always thus with 



myself : for long and often it was just so. Many a time, 
when sickness had brought me, as we say, to death s door, 
I was as easy and insensible as the sailor, who, in the height 
of a storm, should presume to sleep upon the top of the mast, 
quite regardless that the next tossing wave might plunge 
him into the raging ocean, beyond all possibility of relief. 
But, at length, a day came, which, though the most terrible 
day I ever saw, I can now look back upon with thankfulness 
and pleasure : I say the time came, when, in such a helpless 
extremity, and under the expectation of immediate death, 
it pleased God to command the veil from my eyes, and I saw 
things, in some measure, as they really were. Imagine, 
with yourself, a person trembling upon the point of a dreadful 
precipice, a powerful and inexorable enemy eager to push 
him down, and an assemblage of all that is horrible waiting 
at the bottom for his fall ; even this will give you but a 
faint representation of the state of my mind at that time. 
Believe me, it was not a whim or a dream which changed 
my sentiments and conduct, but a powerful conviction which 
will not admit the least doubt, an evidence which, like that 
I have of my own existence, I cannot call in question with 
out contradicting all my senses. And though my case was, 
in some respects, uncommon, yet something like it is known 
by one and another every day ; and I have myself con 
versed with many, who, after a course of years spent in 
defending Deistical principles, or indulging libertine practices, 
when they have thought themselves confirmed in their 
schemes by the cool assent of what they then deemed 
impartial reason, have been, like me, brought to glory in the 
Cross of Christ, and to live by that faith which they had 
before slighted and opposed. By these instances, I know 
that nothing is too hard for the Almighty. The same power 
which humbled me, can, undoubtedly, bring down the most 
haughty infidel upon earth ; and as I likewise know that, 
to show His power, He is often pleased to make use of weak 
instruments, I am encouraged, notwithstanding the appar 
ent difficulty of succeeding, to warn those over whom 
friendship or affection gives me any influence, of the evil and 
the danger of a course of life formed upon the prevailing 
maxims of the world. So far as I neglect this, I am unfaith 
ful in my professions both to God and man. 


I shall not, at present, trouble you in an argumentative way. 
If, by dint of reasoning, I could effect some change in your 
notions, my arguments, unless applied by a superior power, 
would still leave your heart unchanged and untouched. 
A man may give his assent to the Gospel, and be able to defend 
it against others, and yet not have his own spirit truly 
influenced by it. This thought I shall leave with you, that 
if your scheme be not true to a demonstration, it must 
necessarily be false ; for the issue is too important to make 
a doubt on the dangerous side tolerable. If the Christian 
could possibly be mistaken, he is still upon equal terms 
with those who pronounce him to be so ; but if the Deist be 
wrong (that is, if we are in the right) the consequence to 
him must be unavoidable and intolerable. This, you will 
say, is a trite argument : I own it ; but, beaten as it is, 
it will never be worn out or answered. 

Permit me to remind you, that the points in debate 
between us are already settled in themselves, and that 
our talking cannot alter or affect the nature of things ; 
for they will be as they are, whatever apprehensions we may 
form of them : and remember, likewise, that we must all, 
each one for himself, experience on which side the truth lies. 
I used a wrong word when I spoke of your recovery : my dear 
friend, look upon it only as a reprieve ; for you carry the 
sentence of death about with you still ; and unless you should 
be cut off (which God of His mercy forbid !) by a sudden 
stroke, you will as surely lie upon a death-bed, as you have 
been now raised from a bed of sickness. And remember, 
likewise (how can I bear to write it !) that, should you 
neglect my admonitions, they will, notwithstanding, have 
an effect upon you, though not such an effect as I could wish : 
they will render you more inexcusable. I have delivered 
my own soul, by faithfully warning you : but if you will not 
examine the matter with that seriousness it calls for ; if 
you will not look up to God, the former of your body, and 
the preserver of your Spirit, for direction and assistance 
how to please Him ; if you will have your reading and 
conversation only on one side of the question ; if you deter 
mine to let afflictions and dangers, mercies and deliverances, 
all pass without reflection and improvement ; if you will 
spend your life as though you thought you were sent into 


the world only to eat, sleep, and play, and, after a course of 
years, be extinguished like the snuff of a candle why, 
then, you must abide the consequences. But assuredly, 
sooner or later, God will meet you. My hearty daily prayer 
is, that it may be in a way of mercy, and that you may be 
added to the number of the trophies of His invincible grace. 

I am, &c. 

DEAR SIR, 1760. 

THOUGH I truly love you, and have no reason to doubt 
of the reality of your friendship to me, yet I cannot but 
apprehend that, notwithstanding our mutual regard, and 
my frequent attempts to be witty (if I could) for your 
diversion, there is something in most of my letters (which 
I cannot, dare not, wholly suppress) that disgusts and 
wearies you, and makes you less inclined to keep up a 
frequent intercourse than you would otherwise be. Rather 
than lose you quite, I will in general spare you as much as 
I can ; but at present you must bear with me, and allow me 
full scope. You have given me a challenge, which I know 
not how to pass over ; and since you so far justify my 
preaching as to condescend to preach (in your way) yourself, 
permit me for this time to preach again, and to take some 
passages in your letter for my text. 

In the present debate I will accept your compliment, 
and suppose myself to be, as you say, a man of sense. You 
allow, then, that all the sense is not on your side. This, 
indeed, you cannot deny ; for, whatever becomes of me, 
it is needless to tell you, that Hale, Boyle, and other great 
names I could mention, were men of as great penetration and 
judgment, had as good opportunities, and took as much 
pains to be informed of the truth, as any of the advocates 
for infidelity can pretend to. And you cannot, with any 
modesty or conscience, absolutely determine, that they had 
not as good grounds for thinking themselves right as you 
can have for concluding they are wrong. 

But, declining the advantage of human authority, I am 


content the point shall rest between you and me. And here 
I beg you to observe, that I have one evident advantage 
over you in judging, namely, that I have experienced the 
good and evil on both sides, and you only on one. If you 
were to send me an inventory of your pleasures, how charm 
ingly your time runs on, and how dexterously it is divided 
between the coffee-houses, play-house, the card-table, and 
tavern, with intervals of balls, concerts, &c. , I could answer, 
that most of these I have tried and tried again, and know 
the utmost they can yield, and have seen enough of the 
rest most heartily to despise them all. Setting religion 
entirely out of the question, I profess I had rather be a 
worm to crawl upon the ground, than to bear the name 
of MAN upon the poor terms of whiling away my life in an 
insipid round of such insignificant and unmanly trifles. I 
will return your own expression I believe you to be a 
person of sense ; but, alas ! how do you prostitute your 
talents and capacity, how far do you act below yourself, 
if you know no higher purpose of life than these childish 
dissipations, together with the more serious business of 
rising early and sitting up late, to amass money that you 
may be able to enlarge your expenses ! I am sure, while 
I lived in these things, I found them unsatisfying and empty 
to the last degree ; and the only advantage they afforded 
(miserable are they who are forced to deem it an advantage) 
was, that they only relieved me from the trouble and burden 
of thinking. If you have any other pleasures than these, 
they are such as must be evil and inconvenient even upon 
your own plan ; and therefore my friendship will not allow 
me to bring them into the account. I am willing to hope 
you do not stoop still lower in pursuit of satisfaction. Thus 
far we stand upon even ground. You know all that a life 
of pleasure can give, and I know it likewise. 

On the other hand, if I should attempt to explain to you 
the source and streams of my best pleasures, such as a 
comfortable assurance of the pardon of my sins, an habitual 
communion with the God who made Heaven and earth, 
a calm reliance on the Divine providence, the cheering pros 
pect of a better life in a better world, with the pleasing 
foretastes of Heaven in my own soul ; should I, or could I, 
tell you the pleasure I often find in reading the Scripture, 


in the exercise of prayer, and in that sort of preaching and 
conversation which you despise ; I doubt not but you would 
think as meanly of my happiness as I do of yours. But here 
lies the difference, my dear friend ; you condemn that 
which you have never tried. You know no more of these 
things than a blind man does of colours ; and, notwithstand 
ing all your flourishes, I defy you to be at all times able to 
satisfy yourself that things may not possibly be as I have 
represented them. 

Besides, what do I lose upon my plan that should make 
me so worthy of your pity ? Have you a quicker relish in 
the prudent use of temporal comforts ? Do you think I 
do not eat my food with as much pleasure as you can do, 
though, perhaps, with less cost and variety ? Is your sleep 
sounder than mine ? Have not I as much satisfaction in 
social life ? It is true, to join much with the gay fluttering 
tribe, who spend their days in laugh and sing-song, is equally 
contrary to my duty and inclination. But I have friends 
and acquaintance as well as you. Among the many who 
favour me with their esteem and friendship, there are some 
who are persons of sense, learning, wit, and (what perhaps 
may weigh as much with you) of fortune and distinction. 
And if you should say, " Aye, but they are all enthusiasts 
like yourself," you would say nothing to the purpose, since, 
upon your maxim, that " happiness is according to opinion," 
it cannot be an objection, but the contrary, to have my 
acquaintance to my own taste. Thus much for the brighter 
side of your situation or let me add one thing more. 
I know you have thoughts of marriage ; do you think, if 
you should enter into this relation, your principles are 
calculated to make you more happy in it than I am ? You 
are well acquainted with our family life. Do you propose 
to know more of the peace and heart-felt joy of domestic 
union than I have known, and continue to know to this 
hour ? I wish you may equal us ; and, if you do, we shall 
still be as before, but upon even ground. I need not turn 
Deist, to enjoy the best and the most that this life can afford. 

But I need not tell you that the present life is not made 
up of pleasurable incidents only. Pain, sickness, losses, 
disappointments, injuries, and affronts, will, more or less, 
at one time or other, be our lot. And can you bear these 


trials better than I ? You will not pretend to it. Let me 
appeal to yourself : how often do you toss and disquiet 
yourself, like a wild bull in a net, when things cross your 
expectations ? As your thoughts are more engrossed by 
what you see, you must be more keenly sensible of what 
you feel. You cannot view these trials as appointed by a 
wise and Heavenly Father, in subservience to your good ; 
you cannot taste the sweetness of His promises, nor feel the 
secret supports of His strength in an hour of affliction ; 
you cannot so cast your burden and care upon Him, as to 
find a sensible relief to your spirit thereby, nor can you see 
His hand engaged and employed in effecting your deliver 
ance. Of these things you know no more than of the art 
of flying ; but I seriously assure you, and I believe my testi 
mony will go farther with you than my judgment, that they 
are realities, and that I have found them to be so. When 
my worldly concerns have been most thorny and discourag 
ing, I have once and again felt the most of that peace which 
the world can neither give nor take away. However, I may 
state the case still lower. You do pretty well among your 
friends ; but how do you like being alone ? Would you not 
give something for that happy secret, which could enable 
you to pass a rainy day pleasantly, without the assistance 
of business, company, or amusement ? Would it not mortify 
you greatly to travel for a week on an unfrequented road, 
where you shall meet with no lively incidents to recruit and 
raise your spirits ? Alas ! what a poor scheme of pleasure 
is yours, that will not support an interval of reflection ! 

What you have heard is true ; I have a few friends 
who meet at my house once a fortnight, and we spend 
an hour or two in worshipping the God who made us. And 
can this move your indignation, or your compassion ? Does 
it show a much nobler spirit, a more refined way of thinking, 
to live altogether without God in the world ? If I kept 
a card-assembly at those times, it would not displease you. 
How can you, as a person of sense, avoid being shocked 
at your own unhappy prejudice ? But I remember how it 
was once with myself, and forbear to wonder. May He 
who has opened my eyes, open yours ! He only can do it ! 
I do not expect to convince you by anything I can say as of 
myself ; but, if He be pleased to make use of me as His 


instrument, then you will be convinced. How should I 
then rejoice ! I should rejoice to be useful to any one ; 
but especially to you, whom I dearly love. May God 
show you your true self, and your true state ; then you will 
attentively listen to what you now disdain to hear of, His 
goodness in providing redemption and pardon for the chief 
of sinners, through Him who died upon the Cross for sins 
not His own ! Keep this letter by you at my request ; and, 
when you write, tell me that you receive it in good part, and 
that you still believe me to be 

Your sincere and affectionate friend. 





DEAR SIR, April 17, 1776. 

BY this time I hope you are both returned in peace, 
and happy together in your stated, favoured tract : rejoicing 
in the name of Jesus yourselves, and rejoicing to see the 
savour of it spreading like a precious perfume among the 
people. Every day I hope you find prejudices wearing 
off, and more disposed to hear the words of Life. The 
Lord has given you a fine first fruits, which I trust will 
prove the earnest of a plentiful harvest. In the meantime, 
He will enable you to sow the seed in patience, leaving the 
event in His hands. Though it does not spring up visibly 
at once, it will not be lost. I think He would not have sent 
you, if He had not a people there to call ; but they can only 
come forth to view as He is pleased to bring them. Satan 
will try to hinder and disturb you, but he is in a chain which 
he cannot break, nor go a step further than he is permitted. 
And, if you have been instrumental to the conversion of 
but a few, in those few you have an ample reward already 
for all the difficulties you have or can meet with. It is 
more honourable and important to be an instrument of 
saving one soul, than to rescue a whole kingdom from tem 
poral ruin. Let us, therefore, while we earnestly desire 
to be more useful, not forget to be thankful for what the 
Lord has been pleased already to do for us ; and let us 
expect, knowing whose servants we are, and what a Gospel 
we preach, to see some new miracles wrought from day to 
day ; for, indeed, every real conversion may be accounted 

c. 225 p 


miraculous, being no less than an immediate exertion of that 
power which made the heavens, and commanded the 
light to shine out of darkness. Your little telescope is 
safe. I wish I had more of that clear air and sunshine you 
speak of, that with you I might have more distinct views 
of the land of promise. I cannot say my prospect is greatly 
clouded by doubts of my reaching it at last ; but then there 
is such a languor and deadness hangs upon my mind, 
that it is almost amazing to me how I can entertain any 
hopes at all. It seems, if doubting could ever be reasonable, 
there is no one who has greater reason for doubting than 
myself. But I know not how to doubt, when I consider 
the faithfulness, grace, and compassion of Him who has 
promised. If it could be proved that Christ had not died, 
or that He did not speak the words which are ascribed to 
Him in the Gospel, or that He is not able to make them 
good, or that His word cannot safely be taken ; in any of 
these cases I should not doubt to purpose, and lie down in 
despair. I am, etc. 


MY DEAR SIK, July 15, 1777. 

I BEGIN with congratulations first to you and Mrs. , 

on your safe journey and good passage over the formidable 
Humber. Mrs. - - has another river to cross (may it 
be many years before she approaches the bank) over which 
there is no bridge. Perhaps, at seasons, she may think of it 
with that reluctance which she felt before she saw the 
Humber ; but, as her fears were then agreeably disappointed, 
and she found the experiment, when called to make it, 
neither terrifying nor dangerous, so I trust she will find 
it in the other case. Did not she think, The Lord knows 
where I shall be, and He will meet me there with a storm, 
because I am such a sinner ? Then how the billows will 
foam and rage at me, and what a long passage I shall have, 
and perhaps I shall sink in the middle, and never set my 
foot in Hull ! It is true, I am not so much afraid of the 


journey I go by land, though I know that every step of 
the way, the horses or the chaise may fall, and I be killed ; 
but how do I know but He may preserve me on the road, 
on purpose to drown me in the river ! But, behold, when 
she came to it, all was calm ; or, what was better, a gentle, 
fair breeze, to waft her pleasantly over before she was 
aware. Thus we are apt perversely to reason : He guides 
and guards me through life ; He gives me new mercies, 
and new proofs of His power and care every day ; and, 
therefore, when I come to die, He will forsake me, and 
let me be the sport of winds and waves. Indeed, the 
Lord does not deserve such hard thoughts at our hands 
as we are prone to form of Him. But, notwithstanding 
we make such returns, He is and will be gracious, and 
shame us out of our unkind, ungrateful, unbelieving fears 
at last. If, after my repeated kind reception at your 

house, I should always be teasing Mrs. with suspicions 

of her good will, and should tell everybody I saw, that 
I verily believed the next time I went to see her she would 
shut the door in my face, and refuse me admittance, would 
she not be grieved, offended, and affronted ? Would 
she not think, What reason can he assign for this treatment ? 
He knows I did everything in my power to assure him 
of a welcome, and told him so over and over again. Does 
he count me a deceiver ? Yes, he does : I see his friendship 
is not worth preserving; so farewell. I will seek friends 
among such as believe my words and actions. Well, my 
dear Madam, I am clear I always believed you ; I make 
no doubt but you will treat me kindly next time, as you 
did the last. But pray, is not the Lord as worthy of being 
trusted as yourself ; and are not His invitations and pro 
mises as hearty and as honest as yours ? Let us, therefore, 
beware of giving way to such thoughts of Him, as we could 
hardly forgive in our dearest friends if they should harbour 
the like of us. 

I have heard nothing of Mr. P yet, but that he is in 

town, very busy about that precious piece of furniture called 
a wife. May the Lord direct and bless His choice ! In 
Captain Cook s voyage to the South Sea, some fish were 
caught which looked as well as others, but those who ate of 
them were poisoned : alas ! for the poor man who catches a 



poisonous wife ! There are such to be met with in the 
matrimonial seas, that look passing well to the eye, but a 
connexion with them proves baneful to domestic peace, and 
hurtful to the life of grace. I know two or three people, 
perhaps a few more, who have great reason to be thankful to 
Him who sent the fish with the money in its mouth to 
Peter s hook. He secretly instructed and guided us where 
to angle ; and if we have caught prizes, we owe it not to our 
own skill, much less to our deserts, but to His goodness. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR SIR, September 4, 1777. 

- Poor little boy ! it is mercy indeed that he re 
covered from such a formidable hurt. The Lord wounded, 
and the Lord healed. I ascribe, with you, what the world 
calls accident, to Him, and believe, that without His per 
mission, for wise and good ends, a child can no more pull a 
bowl of boiling water on itself, than it could pull the moon 
out of its orbit. And why does He permit such things ? 
One reason or two is sufficient for us : it is to remind us of 
the uncertainty of life and all creature-comforts ; to make 
us afraid of cleaving too closely to pretty toys, which are so 
precarious, that often while we look at them they vanish ; 
and to lead us to a more entire dependence upon Himself ; 
that we might never judge ourselves or our concerns safe 
from outward appearances only, but that the Lord is our 
keeper, and were not His eye upon us, a thousand dangers 
and painful changes, which we can neither foresee nor 
prevent, are lurking about us at every step, ready to break 
in upon us every hour. Men are but children of a larger 
growth. How many are labouring and planning in the 
pursuit of things, the event of which, if they obtain them, will 
be but like pulling scalding water upon their own heads ! 
They must have the bowl by all means, but they are not 
aware what is in it till they feel it. 

I am, &c. 



SIR, July 7, 1777. 

I HAVE had a letter from your minister since his arrival 

at . I hope he will be restored to you again before long, 

and that he and many of your place will rejoice long in each 
other. Those are favoured places which are blessed with a 
sound and faithful Gospel ministry, if the people know and 
consider the value of their privileges, and are really desirous 
of profiting by them : but the kingdom of God is not in 
word, but in power. I hope those who profess the Gospel 
with you will wrestle in prayer for grace to walk worthy of it. 
A minister s hands are strengthened, when he can point to 
his people as so many living proofs that the doctrines he 
preaches are doctrines according to godliness ; when they 
walk in mutual love ; when each one, in their several places, 
manifests a humble, spiritual, upright conduct ; when they 
are Christians, not only at church, but in the family, the shop, 
and the field ; when they fill up their relations in life, as 
husbands or wives, masters or servants, parents or children, 
according to the rule of the word ; when they are evidently a 
people separated from the world while conversant in it, and 
are careful to let their light shine before men, not only by 
talking, but by acting as the disciples of Christ : when they 
go on steadily, not by fits and starts, prizing the means of 
grace without resting in them : when it is thus, we can say, 
Now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. Then we come 
forth with pleasure, and our service is our delight, and we are 
encouraged to hope for an increasing blessing. But if the 
people in whom we have rejoiced sink into formality or a 
worldly spirit ; if they have dissensions and jealousies 
among themselves ; if they act improperly, and give the 
enemies occasion to say, There, there, so would we have it ; 
then our hearts are wounded and our zeal damped, and we 
know not how to speak with liberty. It is my heart s desire 
and prayer for you, that whether I see you, or else be absent 
from you, I may know that you stand fast in one spirit and 
one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel. 

J am, &r, 






MY DEAR MADAM, Nov. 1775. 

Too much of that impatience which you speak of, to 
wards those who differ from us in some religious sentiments, 
is observable on all sides. I do not consider it as the fault 
of a few individuals, or of this or that party, so much as 
the effect of that inherent imperfection which is common 
to our whole race. Anger and scorn are equally unbecom 
ing in those who profess to be followers of the meek and 
lowly Jesus, and who acknowledge themselves to be both 
sinful and fallible ; but too often something of this leaven 
will be found cleaving to the best characters, and mixed 
with honest endeavours to serve the best cause. But 
thus it was from the beginning ; and we have reason to 
confess that we are no better than the apostles were, who, 
though they meant well, manifested once and again a 
wrong spirit in the zeal, Luke ix. 54. Observation and 
experience contribute, by the grace of God, gradually to 
soften and sweeten our spirits ; but then there will always 
be ground for mutual forbearance and mutual forgiveness on 
this head. However, so far as I may judge of myself, I 
think this hastiness is not my most easy besetting sin. 
I am not, indeed, an advocate for that indifference and luke- 
warmness to the truths of God, which seem to constitute 
the candour many plead for in the present day. But 
while I desire to hold fast the sound doctrines of the Gospel 
towards the persons of my fellow-creatures, T wish to 



exercise all moderation and benevolence : Protestants or 
Papists, Socinians or Deists, Jews, Samaritans, or Mahome 
tans, all are my neighbours, they have all a claim upon me 
for the common offices of humanity. As to religion, they 
cannot all be right ; nor may I compliment them, by 
allowing that differences between us are but trivial when I 
believe, and know they are important ; but I am not to 
expect them to see with my eyes. I am deeply convinced 
of the truth of John Baptist s aphorism, John iii. 27, " A 
man can receive nothing, except it be given him from 
Heaven." I well know, that the little measure of know 
ledge I have obtained in the things of God, has not been 
owing to my own wisdom and docility, but to His goodness. 
Nor did I get it all at once : He has been pleased to exercise 
much patience and long-suffering towards me for about 
twenty-seven years past, since He first gave me a desire of 
learning from Himself. He has graciously accommodated 
Himself to my weakness, borne with my mistakes, and 
helped me through innumerable prejudices, which, but for 
His mercy, would have been insuperable hindrances : 
I have therefore no right to be angry, impatient, or censori 
ous, especially as I have still much to learn, and am so poorly 
influenced by what I seem to know. I am weary of con 
troversies and disputes, and desire to choose for myself, and 
to point out to others Mary s part to sit at Jesus feet, 
and to hear His words. And, blessed be His name ! so far 
as I have learned from Him, I am favoured with a comfort 
able certainty ; I know whom I have believed, and am no 
longer tossed about by the various winds and tides of 
opinions, by which I see many are dashed one against the 
other. But I cannot, I must not, I dare not contend ; 
only as a witness for God, I am ready to bear my simple 
testimony to what I have known of His truth, whenever I 
am properly called to it. 

I agree with you, that some, accounted evangelical 
teachers, have too much confined themselves to a few 
leading and favourite topics ; I think this a fault : and 
believe, when it is constantly so, the auditories are deprived 
of much edification and pleasure, which they might receive 
from a more judicious and comprehensive plan. The whole 
Scripture, as it consists of histories, prophecies, doctrines, 


precepts, promises, exhortations, admonitions, encourage 
ments, and reproofs, is the proper subject of the Gospel- 
ministry : and every part should in its place and course be 
attended to ; yet so as that, in every compartment \\v 
exhibit, Jesus should be the capital figure, in whom the 
prophecies are fulfilled, the promises established : to 
whom, in a way of type and emblem, the most important 
parts of Scripture-history have an express reference ; and 
from, whom alone we can receive that life, strength, and 
encouragement, which are necessary to make obedience 
either pleasing or practicable. And where there is true 
spiritual faith in the heart, and in exercise, I believe a person 
will not so much need a detail of what he is to practise, 
as to be often greatly at a loss without it. Our Saviour s 
commandments are plain and clear in themselves ; and 
that love which springs from faith is the best casuist and 
commentator to apply and enforce them. 

You are pleased to say, " Forgive me if I transgress : 
I know the place whereon I stand is holy ground." Permit 
me to assure you, my dear Madam, that were I a person 
of some importance, which I am not, you would run no 
hazard of offending me by the controverting any of my 
sentiments : I hold none (knowingly) which I am not 
willing to submit to examination ; nor am I afraid of offend 
ing you by speaking freely, when you point out my way. 
I should wrong you, if I thought to please you by palliating 
or disguising the sentiments of my heart ; and if I attempted 
to do so, you would see through the design, and despise it. 
There may perhaps be an improper manner of chiming upon 
the name of Jesus, and I am not for vindicating any impro 
priety ; yet could I feel what I ought to mean when I pro 
nounce that name, I should not fear mentioning it too often. 
I am afraid of no excess in thinking highly of it, because I 
read it is the will of God that all men should honour the Son 
as they honour the Father. Laboured explications of the 
Trinity I always avoid. I am afraid of darkening counsel 
by words without knowledge. Scripture, and even reason, 
assures me, there is but one God, whose name alone is 
Jehovah. Scripture likewise assures me, that Christ is God, 
that Jesus is Jehovah. I cannot say that reason assents 
with equal readiness to this proposition as to the former. 


But, admitting what the Scripture teaches concerning the 
evil of sin, the depravity of human nature, the method of 
salvation, and the offices of the Saviour ; admitting that 
God has purposed to glorify, not His mercy only but His 
justice, in the work of redemption ; that the blood 
upon the cross is a proper, adequate satisfaction for sin ; 
and that the Redeemer is at present the Shepherd of those 
who believe in Him, and will hereafter be the Judge of the 
world ; that, in order to give the effectual help which we 
need, it is necessary that He be always intimately with those 
who depend upon Him, in every age, in every place ; must 
know the thoughts and intents of every heart ; must have 
His eye always upon them, His ear always open to them ; 
His arm ever stretched out for their relief ; that they can 
receive nothing but what He bestows ; can do nothing but 
as He enables them, nor stand a moment but as He upholds 
them ; admitting these and the like promises with which 
the word of God abounds, reason must allow, whatever 
difficulties may attend the thought, that only He who is 
God over all, blessed for ever, is able or worthy to execute 
this complicated plan, every part of which requires the 
exertion of infinite wisdom and almighty power ; nor am I 
able to form any clear, satisfactory, comfortable thoughts of 
God, suited to awaken my love, or engage my trust, but 
as He has been pleased to reveal Himself in the person of 
Jesus Christ. I believe with the apostle, that God was once 
manifested in the flesh upon earth ; and that He is now 
manifested in the flesh in Heaven ; and that the worship, 
not only of redeemed sinners, but of the holy angels, is 
addressed to the Lamb that was slain, and who, in that 
nature in which He suffered, now exercises universal do 
minion, and has the government of Heaven, earth, and hell 
upon His shoulders. This truth is the foundation upon 
which my hope is built, the fountain from whence I derive 
all my strength and consolation, and my only encouragement 
for venturing to the throne of grace, for grace to help in time 
of need. 

Till God in human flesh I see, 

My thoughts no comfort find ; 
The holy, just, and sacred Three 

Are terrors to mv mind. 


But if Immanuel s face appear, 

My hope, my joy begins ; 
His name forbids my slavish fear, 

His grace removes my sins. 

I am, however, free to confess to you, that, through 
the pride and unbelief remaining in my heart, and the power 
of Satan s temptations, there are seasons when I find no 
small perplexity and evil reasonings upon this high point ; 
but it is so absolutely essential to my peace, that I cannot 
part with it ; for I cannot give it up, without giving up all 
hope of salvation on the one hand, and giving up the Bible, 
as an unmeaning, contradictory fable, on the other ; and 
through mercy, for the most part, when I am in my right 
mind, I am as fully persuaded of this truth as I am of my 
own existence ; but from the exercises I have had about it, 
I have learned to subscribe to the apostle s declaration, 
that " no man can say that Jesus Christ is Lord, but by the 
Holy Ghost." I am well satisfied, it will not be a burden 
to me at the hour of death, nor be laid to my charge at the 
day of judgment, that I have thought too highly of Jesus, 
expected too much from Him myself, or laboured too much 
in commending and setting Him forth to others, as the 
Alpha and Omega, the true God and eternal life. On the 
contrary, alas ! alas ! my guilt and grief are, that my 
thoughts of Him are so faint, so infrequent, and my com 
mendations of Him so lamentably cold and disproportionate 
to what they ought to be. 

I know not whose letters are rapturous, but I wish mine 
were more so ; not that I am a friend to ungrounded 
sallies of imagination, flights of animal passions, or heat 
without light. But it would be amazing to me, were I not 
aware of human depravity, (of which I consider this as 
one of the most striking proofs,) that they who have any 
good hope of an interest in the Gospel-salvation, do not find 
their hearts (as Dr. Watts expresses it) all on fire ; and that 
their very looks do not express a transport of admiration, 
gratitude, and love, when they consider from what misery 
they are redeemed, to what happiness they are called, and 
what a price was paid for their souls. I wish to be more 
like the apostle Paul in this respect, who, though he often 
forms and compounds new words, seems at a loss for any 


that could suitably describe the emotions of his heart. But 
I am persuaded you would not object to the just fervour of 
Scriptural devotion. But this holy flame can seldom be 
found unsullied in the present life. The temper, constitu 
tion, and infirmities of individuals, will mix more or less 
with what they say or do. Allowances must be made for 
such things in the present state of infirmity ; for who can 
hope to be perfectly free from them ? If the heart is right 
with God, and sincerely affected with the wonders of redeem 
ing love, our gracious High Priest, who knows our weakness, 
pities and pardons what is amiss, accepts our poor efforts, 
and gradually teaches us to discern and avoid what is 
blameable. The work of grace, in its first stages, I sometimes 
compare to the lighting of a fire, where for a while, there is 
abundance of smoke, but it burns clearer and clearer. There 
is often, both in letters and books, what might be very well 
omitted ; but if a love to God and souls be the leading 
principle, I pass as gentle censure upon the rest as I can, 
and apply to some eccentric expressions, what Mr. Prior 
somewhere says of our civil dissensions in this land of 

A bad effect, but from a noble cause. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, February 16, 1776. 

IT gave me great comfort to find, that what I wrote 
concerning the divine character of Jesus as God manifest 
in the flesh, met with your approbation. This doctrine is, 
in my view, the great foundation-stone upon which all true 
religion is built ; but alas ! in the present day, it is the 
stumbling-stone and rock of offence, upon which too many, 
fondly presuming upon their own wisdom, fall and are 
broken. I am so far from wondering that any should 
doubt of it, that I am firmly persuaded none can truly believe 
it, however plainly set forth in Scripture, unless it be 
revealed to them from Heaven ; or, in the apostle s words, 


that " no one can call Jesus Christ Lord, but by the Holy 
Ghost." I believe there are many who think they believe 
it, because they have taken it for granted, and never atten 
tively consider the difficulties with which it is attended in 
the eye of fallen reason. Judging by natural light, it seems 
impossible to believe that the title of the true God and 
eternal life should properly belong to that despised Man who 
hung dead upon the cross, exposed to the insults of His 
cruej enemies. I know nothing that can obviate the objec 
tions the reasoning mind is ready to form against it, but a 
real conviction of the sinfulness of sin, and the state of a 
sinner as exposed to the curse of the holy law, and destitute 
of every plea and hope in himself. Then the necessity of a 
Redeemer, and the necessity of this Redeemer s being 
almighty, is seen and felt, with an evidence which bears 
down all opposition ; for neither the efficacy of His atone 
ment and intercession, nor His sufficiency to guide, save, 
protect, and feed those who trust in Him, can be conceived 
of without it. When the eyes of the understanding are 
opened, and the soul made acquainted with and attentive 
to its own state and wants, he that runs may read this 
truth, not in a few detached texts of a dubious import, and 
liable to be twisted and tortured by the arts of criticism, 
but as interwoven in the very frame and texture of the 
Bible, and written, as with a sun-beam, throughout the 
principal parts both of the Old and New Testament. If 
Christ be the Shepherd and the Husband of His people 
under the Gospel, and if His coming into the world did not 
abridge those who feared God of the privileges they were 
entitled to before His appearance, it follows by undeniable 
consequence, " that He is God over all, blessed for ever." 
For David tells us, that his Shepherd was Jehovah ; and 
the Husband of the Old Testament Church was the Maker 
and God over the whole earth, the Holy One of Israel, whose 
name is the Lord of Hosts, Psa/xxiii. i., Is. liv. 8, with 
xlvii. 4. I agree with you, Madam, that among the many 
attempts which have been made to prove and illustrate the 
Scripture doctrine, that the Father, the Word, and the Holy 
Spirit, are one God, there have been many injudicious, 
unwarrantable things advanced, which have perplexed 
instead of instructing, and of which the enemies of the 


truth have known how to make their advantage. How 
ever, there have been tracts upon these sublime subjects 
which have been written with judgment and an unction, and 
I believe attended with a blessing. I seem to prefer Mr. 
Jones s book on the Trinity to any I have seen, because 
he does little more than state some of the Scripture evidence 
for it, and draws his inferences briefly and plainly ; though 
even he has admitted a few texts, which may perhaps be 
thought not quite full to the point ; and he has certainly 
omitted several of the most express and strongest testimonies. 
The best and happiest proof of all, that this doctrine is true 
in itself, and true to us, is the experience of its effects. 
They who know His name will put their trust in Him : they 
who are right impressed with His astonishing condescension 
and love, in emptying Himself, and submitting to the death 
of the cross for our sakes, will find themselves under a sweet 
constraint to love Him again, and will feel a little of that 
emotion of heart which the Apostle expresses in that lively 
passage, Gal. vi. 14. The knowledge of Christ crucified 
(like Ithuriel s spear) removes the false appearances by which 
we have been too long cheated, and shows us the men and 
the things, the spirit, customs, and maxims of the world, 
in their just light. Were I perfectly master of myself and 
my subject, I would never adduce any text in proof of a 
doctrine or assertion from the pulpit, which was not direct 
and conclusive ; because, if a text is pressed into an argu 
ment, to which it has no proper relation, it rather encumbers 
than supports it, and raises a suspicion that the cause is 
weak, and better testimonies in its favour cannot be obtained. 
Some misapplications of this kind have been so long in use, 
that they pass pretty current, though, if brought to the 
assay, they would be found not quite sterling : but I 
endeavour to avoid them to the best of my judgment. Thus, 
for instance, I have often heard Rom. xiv. 23, " Whatever 
is not of faith is sin," quoted to prove, that without a 
principle of saving faith, we can perform nothing acceptable 
to God ; whereas it seems clear from the context, that faith 
is there used in another sense, and signifies a firm persuasion 
of mind respecting the lawfulness of the action. How 
ever, I doubt not but the proposition in itself is strictly 
true in the other sense, if considered detached from the 


connexion in which it stands ; but I should rather choose 
to prove it from other passages, where it is directly affirmed, 
as Heb. xi. 6 ; Matt. xii. 33. In such cases, I think hearers 
should be careful not to be prejudiced against a doctrine 
merely because it is not well supported : for, perhaps, 
it is capable of solid proof, though the preacher was not 
so happy as to hit upon that which was most suitable ; 
and extempore preachers may sometimes hope for a little 
allowance upon his head, from the more candid part of their 
auditory, and not be made offenders for an inadvertence, 
which they cannot perhaps always avoid in the hurry of 
speaking. With respect to the application of some passages 
in the Old Testament to our Lord and Saviour, I hold it 
safest to keep close to the specimens the Apostles have 
given us, and I would venture with caution, if I go beyond 
their line ; yet it is probable they have only given us a 
specimen, and that there are a great number of passages 
which have a direct reference to Gospel-truths, though we 
may run some hazard in making out the allusion. If St. 
Paul had not gone before me, I should have hesitated to 
assert, that the prohibition, " Thou shalt not muzzle the 
ox that treadeth out the corn," was given, not upon the 
account of oxen, but altogether, for our sakes ; nor should I, 
without his assistance, have found out, that the history of 
Sarah and Hagar was a designed allegory, to set forth the 
difference between the law and Gospel covenants. There 
fore, when I hear ministers tracing some other allusions 
I cannot be always sure that they push them too far, though 
perhaps they are not quite satisfactory to my judgment ; 
for it may be, they have a farther insight into the meaning 
of the places than myself. And I think Scriptures may be 
sometimes used to advantage, by way of accommodation in 
popular discourses, and in something of a different sense 
from what they bear in the place where they stand, pro 
vided they are not alleged as proofs, but only to illustrate 
a truth already proved or acknowledged. Though Job s 
friends and Job himself were mistaken, there are many 
great truths in their speeches, which, as such, may, I think, 
stand as the foundation of a discourse. Nay, I either have, 
or have often intended, to borrow a truth from the mouth 
even of Satan, " Hast Thou not set a hedge about him ? " 


such a confession extorted from our grand adversary placing 
the safety of the Lord s people under His providential care 
in a very striking light. 

I perfectly agree with you, Madam, that our religious 
sensations and exercises are much influenced and tinctured 
by natural constitution ; and that, therefore, tears and 
warm emotions on the one hand, or a comparative dryness 
of spirit on the other, are no sure indications of the real state 
of the heart. Appearances may agree in different persons 
or vary in the same person, from causes merely natural : 
even a change of weather may have some influence in raising 
or depressing the spirits, where the nerves are very delicate, 
and I think such persons are more susceptive of impressions 
from the agency of invisible powers, both good and evil ; 
an agency which, though we cannot explain, experience will 
not permit us to deny. However, though circumstantials 
rise and fall, the real difference between nature and grace 
remains unalterable. That work of God upon the heart, 
which is sometimes called a new birth, at others a new 
creation, is as distant from the highest effects of 
principles, or the most specious imitations which education 
or resolutions can produce, as light is from darkness, or life 
from death. Only He who made the world can either make 
a Christian, or support and carry on His own work. A 
thirst after God as our portion ; a delight in Jesus as the 
only way and door ; a renunciation of self and of the world, 
so far as it is opposite to the spirit of the Gospel ; these 
and the like fruits of that grace which bringeth salvation, 
are not only beyond the power of our fallen nature, but 
contrary to its tendency ; so that we can have no desires of 
this kind till they are given us from above, and can for a 
season hardly bear to hear them spoken of, either as excellent 
or necessary. 

I am, &c. 



MY DEAR MADAM, September 17, 1776. 

WE arc much indebted to you for your kind thoughts 
of us. Hitherto I feel no uneasiness about what is before 
me ; but I am afraid my tranquillity does not wholly spring 
from trust in the Lord and submission to His will, but that 
a pa/t of it at least is derived from the assurances Mr. W. 
gave me, that the operation would be neither difficult nor 
dangerous. I have not much of the hero in my constitu 
tion ; if in great pains or sharp trials I should ever show a 
becoming fortitude, it must be given me from above. I 
desire to leave all with Him in whose hands my ways are, 
and who has promised me strength according to my day. 

I rejoice that the Lord has not only made you desirous 
of being useful to others in their spiritual concerns, but has 
given you, in some instances, to see that your desires and 
attempts have not been in vain. I shall thankfully accept 
of the commission you are pleased to offer me, and take a 
pleasure in perusing any papers you may think proper to put 
into my hands, and offer you my sentiments with that 
simplicity which I am persuaded will be much more agreeable 
to you than compliments. Though I know there is in general 
a delicacy and difficulty in services of this kind, yet with 
respect to yourself I seem to have nothing to fear. 

I have often wished we had more female pens employed 
in the service of the sanctuary. Though few ladies encumber 
themselves with the apparatus of Latin or Greek, or engage 
in voluminous performances ; yet, in the article of essay 
writing, I think many are qualified to succeed better than 
most men, having a peculiar easiness of style, which few of 
us can imitate. I remember you once showed me a paper, 
together with the corrections and alterations proposed by 
a gentleman whose opinion you had asked. I thought his 
corrections had injured it, and given it an air of stiffness, 
wh.-h is often observable when learned men write in English. 
Granmatical rules, as they are called, are wholly derived 
from he mode of speaking or writing which obtains amongst 
those who best understand the language ; for the language 
must be supposed established before any grammar can be 


made for it ; and therefore women who, from the course of 
their education and life, have had an opportunity of reading 
the best written books, and conversing with those who speak 
well, though they do not burden themselves with the formal 
ity of grammar, have often more skill in the English language 
than the men who can call every figure of speech by a Latin 
or a Greek name. You may be sure, Madam, I shall not 
wish your papers suppressed, merely because they were not 
written by a learned man. Language and style, however, are 
but the dress. Trifles, however adorned, are trifles still. 
A person of spiritual discernment would rather be the 
author of one page, written in the humble garb of Bunyan, 
upon a serious subject, than be able to rival the sprightliness 
and elegance of Lady M. W. Montague, unless it could be 
with a view to edification. The subjects you propose are 
important ; and with respect to sacramental meditations, 
and all devotional exercises so called, I perfectly agree with 
you, that to be affecting and useful, they must be dictated 
rather by the heart than by the head ; and are most likely 
to influence others when they are the fruits and transcripts 
of our own experience. So far as I know, we are but scantily 
provided with specimens of this sort in print, and therefore 
I shall be glad to see an accession to the public stock. Your 
other thought, of helps to recollection on Saturday evenings, 
is, I think, an attempt in which none have been beforehand 
with you. So that, according to the general appearance, 
I feel myself disposed to encourage you to do as you have 
purposed. On the other hand, if I meet with anything on 
the perusal of the papers which, in my view, may seem to 
need alteration, I will freely and faithfully point it out. 

I can almost smile now to think you once classed me 
among the Stoics. If I dare speak with confidence of myself 
in anything, I think I may lay claim to a little of that pleas 
ing, painful thing, sensibility. I need not boast of it, for 
it has too often been my snare, my sin, and my punishment. 
Yet I would be thankful for a spice of it, as the Lord s gift, 
and, when rightly exercised, it is valuable ; and I think I 
should make but an awkward minister without it, especially 
here. Where there is this sensibility in the natural temper, 
it will give a tincture or cast to our religious expression. 
Indeed I often find this sensibility weakest where it should 
c. Q 


be strongest, and have reason to reproach myself that I 
am not more affected by the character, love, and sufferings 
of my Lord and Saviour, and my own peculiar personal 
obligations to Him. However, my views of religion have 
been, for many years, such as I supposed more likely to make 
me deemed to be an enthusiast than a Stoic. A moon-light 
head-knowledge, derived from a system of sentiments, 
however true in themselves, is in my judgment a poor thing : 
nor, on the other hand, am I an admirer of those rapturous 
sallies, which are more owing to a warm imagination than 
to a just perception of the power and importance of Gospel 
truth. The Gospel addresses both head and heart ; and 
where it has its proper effect, where it is received as the 
word of God, and is clothed with the authority and energy 
of the Holy Spirit, the understanding is enlightened, the 
affections awakened and engaged, the will brought into 
subjection, and the whole soul delivered to its impression, 
as wax to the seal when this is the case, when the affec 
tions do not take the lead, and push forward with a blind 
impulse, but arise from the principles of Scripture, and are 
governed by them, the more warmth the better. Yet in 
this state of infirmity nothing is perfect ; and our natural 
temperament and disposition will have more influence upon 
our religious sensations than we are ordinarily aware. It is 
well to know how to make proper allowances and abatements 
upon this head, in the judgment we form both of ourselves 
and of others. Many good people are distressed, and alter 
nately elated by frames and feelings which perhaps are more 
constitutional than properly religious experiences. I dare 
not tell you, Madam, what I am, but I can tell you what I 
wish to be. The love of God, as manifested in Jesus Christ, 
is what I would wish to be the abiding object of my contem 
plation ; not merely to speculate upon it as a doctrine, but so 
to feel it, and my own interest in it, as to have my heart filled 
with its effects, and transformed into its resemblance ; 
that with this glorious exemplar in my view, I may be ani 
mated to a spirit of benevolence, love, and compassion, 
to all around me ; that my love may be primarily fixed 
upon Him who has so loved me, and then for His sake, 
diffused to all His children, and to all His creatures. Then, 
knowing that much is forgiven to me, I should be prompted 


to the ready exercise of forgiveness, if I have aught against 
any. Then I should be humble, patient, and submissive 
under all His dispensations ; meek, gentle, forbearing, 
and kind to my fellow- worms. Then I should be active and 
diligent in improving all my talents and powers in His 
service, and for His glory ; and live not to myself, but to Him 
who loved me and gave Himself for me. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, Nov. 29, 1776. 

I AM persuaded you need not be told, that though 
there are perhaps supposable extremities, in which self 
would prevail over all considerations, yet in general it is 
more easy to suffer in our own persons, than in the persons 
of those whom we dearly love ; for through such a medium 
our apprehensions possibly receive the idea of the trouble 
enlarged beyond its just dimensions ; and it would sit lighter 
upon us, if it were properly our own case, for then we 
should feel it all, and there would be no room for imagination 
to exaggerate. 

But though I feel grief, I trust the Lord has mercifully 
preserved me from impatience and murmuring, and that, 
in the midst of all the pleadings of flesh and blood, there is 
exception, " Not my will, but Thine be done." 

It is a comfortable consideration, that He with whom 
we have to do, our great High Priest who once put away 
our sins by the sacrifice of Himself, and now for ever appears 
in the presence of God for us, is not only possessed of sover 
eign authority and infinite power, but wears our very nature, 
and feels and exercises in the highest degree those tender 
nesses and commiserations, which I conceive are essential to 
humanity in its perfect state. The whole history of His 
wonderful life is full of inimitable instances of this kind. 
His bowels were moved before His arm was exerted ; He 
condescended to mingle tears with mourners, and wept over 
distresses which He intended to relieve. He is still the same 



in His exalted state ; compassions dwell within His heart. 
In a way inconceivable to us, but consistent with His su 
preme dignity and perfection of happiness and glory, He 
still feels for His people. When Saul persecuted the members 
upon earth, the Head complained from Heaven ; and sooner 
shall the most tender mother sit insensible and inattentive 
to the cries and wants of her infant, than the Lord Jesus 
be an unconcerned spectator of His suffering children. No ; 
witri the eye, and the ear, and the heart of a friend, He at 
tends to their sorrows ; He counts their sighs, puts their 
tears in His bottle ; and when our spirits are overwhelmed 
within us, He knows our path, and adjusts the time, the 
measure of our trials, and everything that is necessary for 
our present support and seasonable deliverance, with the 
same unerring wisdom and accuracy as He weighed the 
mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance, and meted out 
the heavens with a span. Still more, besides His bene 
volent, He has an experimental, sympathy. He knows 
our sorrows, not merely as He knows all things, but as one 
who has been in our situation, and who, though without sin 
Himself, endured, when upon earth, inexpressibly more for 
us than He will ever lay upon us. He has sanctified poverty, 
pain, disgrace, temptation, and death, by passing through 
these states ; and in whatever states His people are, they 
may by faith have fellowship with Him in their sufferings, 
and He will, by sympathy and love, have fellowship and 
interest with them in theirs. What then, shall we fear, or of 
what shall we complain, when all our concerns are written 
upon His heart, and their management, to the very hairs of 
our head, are under His care and Providence ; when He 
pities us more than we can do ourselves, and has engaged 
His almighty power to sustain and relieve us ? However, 
as He is tender, He is wise also ; He loves us, but especially 
with regard to our best interests. If there were not some 
thing in our hearts and our situation that required disci 
pline and medicine, He so delights in our prosperity, that 
we should never be in heaviness. The innumerable com 
forts and mercies with which He enriches even those we call 
our darker days, are sufficient proofs that He does not 
willingly grieve us ; but when He sees a need-be for chastise 
ment, He will not withhold it, because He loves us ; on the 


contrary, that is the very reason why He afflicts. He will 
put His silver into the fire to purify it ; but He sits by the 
furnace as a refiner, to direct the process, and to secure the 
end He has in view, that we may neither suffer too much, 
nor suffer in vain. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, Dec. 1776. 

I HAVE often preached to others of the benefit of 
affliction ; but my own path for many years has been so 
smooth, and my trials, though I have not been without 
trials, comparatively so light and few, that I have seemed 
to myself to speak by rote upon a subject of which I had 
not a proper feeling. Yet the many exercises of my poor 
afflicted people, and the sympathy the Lord has given me 
with them in their troubles, has made this a frequent and 
favourite topic of my ministry among them. The advan 
tages of afflictions, when the Lord is pleased to employ them 
for the good of His people, are many and great. Permit 
me to mention a few of them ; and the Lord grant, that we 
may all find those blessed ends answered to ourselves, by 
the trials He is pleased to appoint us. 

Afflictions quicken us to prayer. It is a pity it should be 
so ; but experience testifies, that a long course of ease and 
prosperity without painful changes, has an unhappy ten 
dency to make us cold and formal in our secret worship ; 
but troubles rouse our spirits, and constrain us to call upon 
the Lord in good earnest, when we feel a need of that help 
which we only can have from Him. 

They are useful, and in a degree necessary, to keep alive 
in us a conviction of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of 
the present world, and all its enjoyments ; to remind us that 
this is not our rest, and to call our thoughts upwards, where our 
true treasure is, and where our conversation ought to be. 
When things go on much to our wish, our hearts are too 
prone to say, " It is good to be here." It is probable, that 


had Moses, when he came to invite Israel to Canaan, found 
them in prosperity, as in the days of Joseph, they would 
have been very unwilling to remove ; but the afflictions they 
were previously brought into made his message welcome. 
Thus the Lord, by pain, sickness, and disappointments, by 
breaking our cisterns, and withering our gourds, weakens 
our attachment to this world, and makes the thought of 
quitting it more familiar and more desirable. 

A child of God cannot but greatly desire a more enlarged 
and experimental acquaintance with His Holy Word ; and 
this attainment is greatly promoted by our trials. The far 
greater part of the promises in Scripture are made and suited 
to a state of affliction ; and though we may believe they are 
true, we cannot so well know their sweetness, power, and 
suitableness, unless we ourselves are in a state to which they 
refer. The Lord says, " Call upon Me in the day of trouble, 
and I will deliver. Now, till the day of trouble comes, such a 
promise is like a city of refuge to an Israelite, who, not having 
slain a man, was in no danger of the avenger of blood. He 
had a privilege near him, of which he knew not the use and 
value, because he was not in the case for which it was pro 
vided. But some can say, I not only believe this promise 
upon the authority of the speaker, but I can set my seal to 
it ; I have been in trouble, I took this course for relief, and 
I was not disappointed. The Lord verily heard and de 
livered me. Thus afflictions likewise give occasion of our 
knowing and noticing more of the Lord s wisdom, power, 
and goodness, in supporting and relieving, than we should 
otherwise have known. 

I have not time to take another sheet ; must, therefore, 
contract my homily. Afflictions evidence to ourselves, 
and manifest to others, the reality of grace. And when 
we suffer as Christians, exercise some measure of that 
patience and submission, and receive some measure of 
these supports and supplies, which the Gospel requires and 
promises to believers, we are more confirmed that we have 
not taken up with mere notions ; and others may be con 
vinced, that we do not follow cunningly-devised fables. 
They likewise strengthen, by exercise, our graces : as our 
limbs and natural powers would be feeble if not called to 
daily exertion ; so the graces of the Spirit would languish, 


unless something were provided to draw them out to use. 
And, to say no more, they are honourable, as they advance 
our conformity to Jesus our Lord, who was a man of sorrows 
for our sake. Methinks, if we might go to Heaven without 
suffering, we should be unwilling to desire it. Why should 
we ever wish to go by any other path than that which He has 
consecrated and endeared by His own example ? especially 
as His people s sufferings are not penal ; there is no wrath 
in them ; the cup He puts in their hands is very different 
from that which He drank for their sakes, and is only 
medicinal to promote their chief good. Here I must stop ; 
but the subject is fruitful, and might be pursued through a 
quire of paper. 

I am, r &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, August, -- 1768. 

YOUR obliging favour of the 22nd from B - , which 
I received last night, demands an immediate acknowledg 
ment. Many things which would have offered by way of 
answer, must, for the present, be postponed ; for the same 
post brought information which turns my thoughts to one 
subject. What shall I say ? Topics of consolation are at 
hand in abundance ; they are familiar to your mind ; and 
were I to fill the sheet with them, I could suggest nothing 
but what you already know. Then are they consolatory 
indeed, when the Lord Himself is pleased to apply them to 
the heart. This He has promised, and therefore we are en 
couraged to expect it. This is my prayer for you ; I sin 
cerely sympathise with you : I cannot comfort you ; but 
He can, and I trust He will. How impertinent would it 
be to advise you to forget or suspend the feelings which 
such a stroke must excite ! who can help feeling ? nor is 
sensibility in itself sinful. Christian resignation is very 
different from that stoical stubbornness, which is most 
easily practised by those unamiable characters, whose regards 
centre wholly in self : nor could we, in a proper manner, 


exercise submission to the will of God under our trials, if we 
did not feel them. He who knows our frame, is pleased to 
allow that afflictions for the present are not joyous, but 
grievous. But to them that fear Him, He is near at hand, 
to support their spirits, to moderate their grief, and in the 
issue to sanctify it ; so that they shall come out of the 
furnace refined, more humble, and more spiritual. There 
is, however, a part assigned us : we are to pray for the help 
in need ; and we are not wilfully to give way to the im 
pression of overwhelming sorrow. We are to endeavour to 
turn our thoughts to such considerations as are suited to 
alleviate it : our deserts as sinners, the many mercies we 
are still indulged with, the still greater afflictions which 
many of our fellow-creatures endure, and, above all, the 
sufferings of Jesus, that man of sorrows, who made Himself 
intimately acquainted with grief for our sakes. 

When the will of the Lord is manifested to us by the 
event, we are to look to Him for grace and strength, and 
be still to know that He is God, that He has a right to 
dispose of us and ours as He pleases, and that in the exercise 
of this right He is most certainly good and wise. We often 
complain of losses ; but this expression is rather improper. 
Strictly speaking, we can lose nothing, because we have 
no real property in anything. Our earthly comforts are 
lent us ; and when recalled, we ought to return and resign 
them with thankfulness to Him who has let them remain 
so long in our hands. But, as I said above, I do not mean to 
enlarge in this strain : I hope the Lord, the only Com 
forter, will bring such thoughts with warmth and efficacy 
to your mind. Your wound, while fresh, is painful ; but 
faith, prayer, and time, will, I trust, gradually render it 
tolerable. There is something fascinating in grief ; pain 
ful as it is, we are prone to indulge it, and to brood over 
the thoughts and circumstances which are suited (like fuel 
to fire) to heighten and prolong it. When the Lord afflicts, 
it is His design that we should grieve : but in this, as in all 
other things, there is a certain moderation which becomes 
a Christian, and which only grace can teach ; and grace 
teaches us, not by books or by hearsay, but by experimental 
lessons : all beyond this should be avoided, and guarded 
against as sinful and hurtful. Grief, when indulged and 


excessive, preys upon the spirits, injures health, indisposes 
us for duty, and causes us to shed tears, which deserve 
more tears. This is a weeping world. Sin has filled it 
with thorns and briers, with crosses and calamities. It 
is a great hospital, resounding with groans in every quarter. 
It is as a field of battle, where many are falling around us 
continually ; and it is more wonderful that we escape so well, 
than that we are sometimes wounded. We must have some 
share ; it is the unavoidable lot of our nature and state ; 
it is likewise needful, in point of discipline. The Lord 
will certainly chasten those whom He loves, though others 
may seem to pass for a time with impunity. That is a 
sweet, instructive, and important passage, Heb. xii. 5, n. 
It is so plain, that it needs no comment ; so full, that a 
comment would but weaken it. May the Lord inscribe it 
upon your heart, my dear Madam, and upon mine ! 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, Nov. -- 1778. 

YOUR obliging favour raised in me a variety of emo 
tions when I first received it, and has revived them this 
morning while perusing it again. I have mourned and 
rejoiced with you, and felt pain and pleasure in succes 
sion, as you diversified the subject. However, the weight 
of your grief I was willing to consider as a thing that is 
past ; and the thought that you had been mercifully sup 
ported under it, and brought through it, that you were 
restored home in safety, and that at the time of writing 
you were tolerably well and composed, made joy upon 
the whole preponderate ; and I am more disposed to con 
gratulate you, and join you in praising the Lord for the 
mercies you enumerate, than to prolong my condolence 
upon the mournful parts orf your letter. Repeated trying 
occasions have made me well acquainted with the anxious 
inquiries with which the busy poring mind is apt to pursue 
departed friends : it can hardly be otherwise under some 


circumstances. I have found prayer the best relief. I 
have thought it very allowable to avail myself to the utmost 
of every favourable consideration ; but I have had the most 
comfort, when I have been enabled to resign the whole 
concern into His hands, whose thoughts and ways, whose 
power and goodness, are infinitely superior to our con 
ceptions. I consider in such cases, that the great Redeemer 
can save to the uttermost, and the great Teacher can 
communicate light, and impress truth, when and how He 
pleases. I trust the power of His grace and compassion 
will hereafter triumphantly appear in many instances of 
persons, who, on their dying beds, and in the last moments, 
have been by His mercy constrained to feel the importance 
and reality of truths which they did not properly under 
stand and attend to in the hour of health and prosperity. 
Such a salutary change I have frequently, or at least more 
than once, twice, or thrice, been an eye-witness to, accom 
panied with such evidence as I think has been quite satis 
factory. And who can say such a change may not often 
take place, when the person who is the subject of it is too 
much enfeebled to give an account to bystanders of what is 
transacting in his mind ? Thus I have encouraged my 
hope. But the best satisfaction of all is, to be duly impressed 
with the voice that says, " Be still, and know that I am God." 
These words direct us not only to His sovereignty, His 
undoubted right to do what He will, with His own, but to all 
His adorable and amiable perfections, by wluch He has 
manifested Himself to us in the Son of His love. 

As I am not a Sadducee, the account you give of the 
music which entertained you on the road does not put my 
dependence upon your veracity or your judgment to any 
trial. We live upon the confines of the invisible world, or 
rather, perhaps, in the midst of it. That unseen agents 
have a power of operating upon our minds, at least, upon 
that mysterious faculty we call the imagination, is with 
me not merely a point of opinion, or even of faith, but of 
experience. That evil spirits can, when permitted, dis 
turb, distress, and defile us, I kpow, as well as I know that 
the fire can burn me ; and though their interposition is 
perhaps more easily and certainly distinguishable, yet, from 
analogy, I conclude that good spirits are equally willing, 


and equally able, to employ their kind offices for our relief 
and comfort. I have formed in my mind a kind of system 
upon this subject, which, for the most part, I keep pretty 
much to myself ; but I can entrust my thoughts to you 
as they occasionally offer. I apprehend that some persons 
(those particularly who rank under the class of nervous) 
are more open and accessible to these impressions than 
others, and probably the same persons more so at some 
times than at others. And though we frequently dis 
tinguish between imaginary and real (which is one reason 
why nervous people are so seldom pitied) yet an impression 
upon the imagination may, as to the agent that produces it, 
and to the person that receives it, be as much a reality as 
any of the sensible objects around him ; though a by-stander, 
not being able to share in the perception, may account it a 
mere whim, and suppose it might be avoided or removed by 
an act of the will. Nor have any a right to withhold their 
assent to what the Scriptures teach, and many sober persons 
declare, of this invisible agency, merely because we cannot 
answer the questions, How ? or Why ? The thing may be 
certain though we cannot easily explain it ; and there may 
be just and important reasons for it, though we should not 
be able to assign them. If what you heard, or (which in my 
view is much the same) what you thought you heard, had 
a tendency to compose your spirit, and to encourage your 
application to the Lord for help, at the time when you were 
about to stand in need of especial assistance, then there is 
a sufficient and suitable reason assigned for it at once, with 
out looking further. It would be dangerous to make 
impressions a rule of duty ; but if they strengthen us, and 
assist us in the performance of what we know to be our duty, 
me way be thankful for them. 

You have taken leave of your favourite trees, and the 
scenes of your younger life, but a few years sooner than you 
must have done, if the late dispensation had not taken place. 
All must be left soon ; for all below is polluted, and in its 
best state is too scanty to afford us happiness. If we are 
believers in Jesus, all we can quit is a mere nothing, com 
pared with what we shall obtain. To exchange a dungeon 
for a palace, earth for Heaven, will call for no self-denial 
when we stand upon the threshold of eternity, and shall have 



a clearer view than we have now of the vanity of what is 
passing from us, and the glory of what is before us. The 
partial changes we meet with in our way through life are 
designed to remind us of, and prepare us for, the great change 
which awaits us at the end of it. The Lord grant that we 
may find mercy of the Lord in that solemn hour ! 

I am, &c. 





MY DEAR MADAM, March 12, 1774. 

MY heart is full, yet I must restrain it. Many thoughts 
which crowd my mind, and would have vent were I writing 
to another person, would to you be unseasonable. I write 
not to remind you of what you have lost, but of what you 
have which you cannot lose. May the Lord put a word into 
my heart that may be acceptable ; and may His good Spirit 
accompany the perusal, and enable you to say with the 
apostle, that as sufferings abound, consolations also abound 
by Jesus Christ ! Indeed I can sympathise with you. I 
remember, too, the delicacy of your frame, and the tender 
ness of your natural spirits ; so that, were you not interested 
in the exceeding great and precious promises of the Gospel, 
I should be ready to fear you must sink under your trial. 
But I have some faint conceptions of the all-sufficiency and 
faithfulness of the Lord, and may address you in the king s 
words to Daniel, " Thy God, whom thou servest continually, 
He will deliver thee." Motives for resignation to His will 
abound in His word ; but it is an additional and crowning 
mercy, that He has promised to apply and enforce them 
in time of need. He has said, " My grace shall be sufficient 
for thee : and as thy day is, so shall thy strength be." 
This I trust you have already experienced. The Lord is 
so rich and so good, that He can by a glance of thought 
compensate His children for whatever His wisdom sees fit 
to deprive them of. If He gives them a lively sense of what 
He has delivered them from, and prepared for them, or of 



what He Himself submitted to endure for their sakes, they 
find at once light springing up out of darkness ; hard things 
become easy, and bitter sweet. I remember to have read 
of a good man in the last century (probably you may 
have met with the story) who, when his beloved and only 
son lay ill, was for some time greatly anxious about the 
event. One morning he stayed longer than usual in his 
closet ; while he was there his son died. When he came 
out, his family were afraid to tell him, but, like David, he 
perceived it by their looks ; and when upon inquiry they 
said it was so, he received the news with a composure that 
surprised them. But he soon explained the reason, by 
telling them, that for such discoveries of the Lord s goodness 
as he had been favoured with that morning, he could be 
content to lose a son every day. Yes, Madam, though every 
stream must fail, the fountain is still full and still flowing. 
All the comfort you ever received in your dear friend was 
from the Lord, who is abundantly able to comfort you 
still ; and He is gone but a little before you. May your 
faith anticipate the joyful and glorious meeting you will 
shortly have in a better world ! Then your worship and 
converse together will be to unspeakable advantage, with 
out imperfecting, interruption, abatement or end. Then 
all tears shall be wiped away, and every cloud removed ; 
and then you will see that all your concernments here 
below (the late afflicting dispensation not excepted) 
were appointed and adjusted by infinite wisdom and in 
finite love. 

The Lord, who knows our frame, does not expect or 
require that we should aim at a stoical indifference under 
His visitations. He allows, that afflictions are at present 
not joyous, but grievous ; yea, He was pleased when upon 
earth to weep with His mourning friends when Lazarus died. 
But He has graciously provided for the prevention of that 
anguish and bitterness of sorrow, which is, upon such occa 
sions, the portion of such as live without God in the world, 
and has engaged that all shall work together for good, and 
yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. May He bless you 
with a sweet serenity of spirit, and a cheerful hope of the 
glory that shall be shortly revealed ! 

I intimated that I would not trouble you with my own sense 


and share of this loss. If you remember the great kindness 

I always received from Mr. T. and yourself, as often 

as[opportunity afforded, and if you will believe me possessed 
of any sensibility or gratitude, you will conclude that 
my concern is not small. I feel likewise for the public. 
Will it be a consolation to you, Madam, to know that you 
do not mourn alone ? A character so exemplary, as a friend, 
a counsellor, a Christian, and a minister, will be long and 
deeply regretted ; and many will join with me in praying, 
that you who are most nearly interested may be signally 
supported, and feel the propriety of Mrs. Rowe s acknow 

Thou dost but take the dying lamp away 
To bless me with Thine own unclouded day. 

We join in most affectionate respects and condolence. 
May the Lord bless you and keep you, lift up the light of 
His countenance upon you, and give you peace ! 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, April 8, 1775. 

I HAVE long and often purposed waiting upon you with 
a second letter, though one thing or other still caused delay ; 
for though I could not but wish to hear from you, I was 
far from making that a condition of my writing. If you have 
leisure and spirits to favour me with a line now and then, 
it will give us much pleasure ; but if not, it will be a suffi 
cient inducement with me to write, to know that you give 
me liberty, and that you will receive my letters in good 
part. At the same time I must add, that my various 
engagements will not permit me to break in upon you so often 
as my sincere affection would otherwise prompt me to do. 

I heartily thank you for yours, and hope my soul desires 
to praise the Lord on your behalf. I am persuaded that 
His goodness to you, in supporting you under a trial so 
sharp in itself, and in the circumstances that attended it, 


has been an encouragement and comfort to many. It is 
in such apparently severe times that the all-sufficiency and 
faithfulness of the Lord, and the power and proper effects 
of His precious Gospel, are most eminently displayed. I 
would hope, and I do believe, that the knowledge of your 
case has animated some of the Lord s people against those 
anxious fears which they sometimes feel when they look 
upon their earthly comforts with too careful an eye, and their 
hearts are ready to sink at the thought. What should I 
do, and how should I behave, were the Lord pleased to 
take away my desire with a stroke ? But we see He can 
supply their absence, and afford us superior comforts 
without them. The Gospel reveals one thing needful, the 
pearl of great price ; and supposes that they who possess 
this are provided for against all events, and have ground 
of unshaken hope, and a source of never-failing consolation 
under every change they can meet with during their pil 
grimage state. When His people are enabled to set their 
seal to this, not only in theory when all things go smooth, 
but practically when called upon to pass through the 
fire and water, then His grace is glorified in them and by 
them ; then it appears both to themselves and to others, 
that they have neither followed cunningly devised fables, 
nor amused themselves with empty notions ; then they know 
in themselves, and it is evidenced to others, that God is 
with them of a truth. In this view a believer, when in some 
good measure divested from that narrow selfish disposi 
tion which cleaves so closely to us by nature, will not only 
submit to trials, but rejoice in them, notwithstanding the 
feelings and reluctance of the flesh. For if I am redeemed 
from misery by the blood of Jesus, and if He is now prepar 
ing me a mansion near Himself, that I may drink of the 
rivers of pleasure at His right hand for evermore, the ques 
tion is not (at least ought not to be) How may I pass 
through life with the least inconvenience How may my 
little span of life be made most subservient to the praise and 
glory of Him Who loved me, and gave Himself for me ? 
Where the Lord gives this desire, He will gratify it : and as 
afflictions for the most part afford the fairest opportunities 
of this kind, therefore it is, that those whom He is pleased 
eminently to honour are usually called, at one time or 


another, to the heaviest trials ; not because He loves to 
grieve them, but because He hears their prayers, and 
accepts their desires of doing Him service in the world. 
The post of honour in war is so called, because attended 
with difficulties and dangers which but few are supposed 
equal to ; yet generals usually allot these hard services to 
their favourites and friends, who, on their parts, eagerly 
accept them as tokens of favour, and marks of confidence. 
Should we, therefore, not account it an honour and a 
privilege, when the Captain of our salvation assigns us a 
difficult post since He can and does (which no earthly 
commander can) inspire His soldiers with wisdom, courage 
and strength, suitable to their situation (2 Cor. xii. 9, 10) ? 
I am acquainted with a few who have been led thus into the 
fore-front of the battle : they suffered much ; but I have 
never heard them say they suffered too much ; for the 
Lord stood by them and strengthened them. Go on, my 
dear Madam : yet a little while and Jesus will wipe away 
all tears from your eyes ; you will see your beloved friend 
again, and he and you will rejoice together for ever. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, October 24, 1775. 

THE manner in which you mention " Omicron s Letters," 
I hope, will rather humble me than puff me up. Your 
favourable acceptance of them, if alone, might have the 
latter effect ; but, alas ! I feel myself so very defective 
in those things, the importance of wliich I endeavour to 
point out to others, that I almost appear to myself to be 
one of those who say, but do not. I find it much easier 
to speak to the hearts of others than to my own. Yet I 
have cause, beyond many, to bless God, that He has given 
me some idea of what a Christian ought to be, and I hope 
a real desire of being one myself ; but verily I have at 
tained but a very little way. A friend hinted to me, that 
the character I have given of C. or grace in the full ear, 

c. R 


must be from my own experience, or I could not have written 
it. To myself, however, it appears otherwise ; but I am 
well convinced, that the state of C. is attainable, and more 
to be desired than mountains of gold and silver. But I 
find you complain likewise ; though it appears to me, and 
I believe to all who know you, that the Lord lias been 
peculiarly gracious to you, in giving you much of the spirit 
in which He delights, and by which His name and the power 
of Hjs Gospel are glorified. It seems, therefore, that we 
are hot competent judges either of ourselves or of others. 
I take it for granted, that they are the most excellent 
Christians who are most abased in their own eyes ; but 
lest you should think upon this ground that I am something, 
because I can say so many humiliating things of myself, 
I must prevent your over-rating me, by assuring you, that 
my confessions rather express what I know I ought to think 
of myself, than what I actually do. Naturalists suppose, 
that if the matter of which the earth is formed were con 
densed as much as it is capable of, it would occupy but a 
very small space ; in proof of which they observe, that a 
cubical pane of glass, which appears smooth and impervious 
to us, must be exceedingly porous in itself ; since in every 
assignable point it receives and transmits the rays of light ; 
and yet gold, which is the most solid substance we are 
acquainted with, is about eight times heavier than glass, 
which is made up (if I may say so) of nothing but pores. 
In like manner, I conceive that inherent grace, when it is 
dilated, and appears to the greatest advantage in a sinner, 
would be found to be very small and inconsiderable, if it 
was condensed, and absolutely separated from every mix 
ture. The highest attainments in this life are very incon 
siderable, compared with what should properly result from 
our relation and obligations to a God of infinite holiness. 
The nearer we approach to Him, the more we are sensible 
of this. While we only hear of God as it were by the ear, we 
seem to be something ; but when, as in the case of Job, He 
discovers Himself more sensibly to us, Job s language 
becomes ours, and the height of our attainment is, to abhor 
ourselves in dust and ashes. 

I hope I do not write too late to meet you at Bath. I 
pray that your health may be benefited by the waters, 


and your soul comforted by the Lord s blessing upon His 
ordinances, and the converse of His children. If any of the 
friends you expected to see are still there, to whom we are 
known, and my name should be mentioned, I beg you to 
say, we desire to be respectfully remembered to them. 
Had I wings I would fly to Bath while you are there. As it 
is, I endeavour to be with you in spirit. There certainly is 
a real, though secret, a sweet, though mysterious, com 
munion of saints, by virtue of their common union with 
Jesus. Feeding upon the same bread, drinking of the same 
fountain, waiting at the same mercy-seat, and aiming at the 
same ends, they have fellowship one with another, though 
at a distance. Who can tell how often the Holy Spirit, 
who is equally present with them all, touches the hearts of 
two or more of His children at the same instant, so as to 
excite a sympathy of pleasure, prayer, or praise, on each 
other s account ? It revives me/sometimes in a dull and 
dark hour to reflect, that the Lord has in mercy given me a 
place in the hearts of many of His people ; and perhaps 
some of them may be speaking to Him on my behalf, when 
I have hardly power to utter a word for myself. For kind 
services of this sort, I persuade myself, I am often indebted 
to you. O that I were enabled more fervently to repay you 
in the same way ! I can say that I attempt it : I love and 
honour you greatly, and your concernments are often upon 
my mind. 

We spent most of a week with Mr. B since we re 
turned from London, and he has been once here. We 
have reason to be very thankful for his connexion ; I find 
but few like-minded with him, and his family is filled with 
the grace and peace of the Gospel. I never visit them 
but I meet with something to humble, quicken, and edify 
me. O ! what will Heaven be, where there shall be all 
who love the Lord Jesus, and they only ; where all imper 
fection, and whatever now abates or interrupts their joy in 
their Lord, and in each other, shall cease for ever ? There 
at last I hope to meet you, and spend an eternity with you, 
in admiring the riches and glory of redeeming love. 

We join in a tender of the most affectionate respects. 

I am, &c. 




MY DEAR MADAM, October 28, 1777. 

WHAT can I say for myself, to let your obliging letter 
remain so long unanswered, when your kind solicitude for 
us induced you to write ? I am ashamed of the delay. 
You would have heard from me immediately, had I been 
at home. But I have reason to be thankful that we were 
providentially called to London a few days before the fire ; 
so that Mrs. - - was mercifully preserved from the alarm 
and shock she must have felt, had she been upon the spot. 
Your letter followed me hither, and was in my possession 
more than a week before my return. I purposed writing 
every day, but indeed I was much hurried and engaged. 
Yet I am not excused ; I ought to have saved time from 
my meals or my sleep, rather than appear negligent or 
ungrateful. I now seize the first post I could write by 
since I came home. The fire devoured twelve houses ; and 
it was a mercy, and almost a miracle, that the whole 
town was not destroyed ; wliich must, humanly speaking, 
have been the case, had not the night been calm, as two-thirds 
of the buildings were thatched. No lives were lost, no 
person considerably hurt ; and I believe the contributions 
of the benevolent will prevent the loss from being greatly 
felt. It was at the distance of a quarter of a mile from my 

Your command limits my attention, at present, to a 
part of your letter, and points me out a subject. Yet, 
at the same time, you lay me under a difficulty. I would not 
willingly offend you, and I hope the Lord has taught me 
not to aim at saying handsome things. I deal not in com 
pliments, and religious compliments are the most unseemly 
of any. But why might I not express my sense of the 
grace of God manifested in you as well as in another ? I be 
lieve our hearts are all alike destitute of every good, and 
prone to every evil. Like money from the same mint, they 
bear the same impression of total depravity ; but grace 
makes a difference, and grace deserves the praise. Perhaps 
it ought not greatly to displease you, that others do, and 
must, and will, think better of you than you do of yourself. 


If I do, how can I help it, when I form my judgment entirely 
from what you say and write ? I cannot consent that you 
should seriously appoint me to examine and judge of your 
state. I thought you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 
what your views and desires are ; yea, you express them 
in your letter, in full agreement with what the Scripture 
declares of the principles, desires, and feelings of a Christian. 
It is true that you feel contrary principles, that you are 
conscious of defects and defilements ; but it is equally 
true that you could not be right if you did not feel these 
things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, 
is one of the surest marks of grace ; and to be more deeply 
sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth 
in grace. But when the enemy would tempt us to doubt 
and distrust, because we are not perfect, then he fights, 
not only against our peace, but against the honour and faith 
fulness of our dear Lord. Our righteousness is in Him, and 
our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us, 
but upon the fulness of grace and love in Him, and upon 
His obedience unto death. 

There is, my dear Madam, a difference between the 
holiness of a sinner and that of an angel. The angels have 
never sinned, nor have they tasted of redeeming love ; 
they have no inward conflicts, no law of sin warring in their 
members ; their obedience is perfect ; their happiness is 
complete. Yet if I be found among redeemed sinners, I 
need not wish to be an angel. Perhaps God is not less 
glorified by your obedience, and, not to shock you, I will 
add, by mine, than by Gabriel s. It is a mighty manifesta 
tion of His grace indeed, when it can live, and act, and con 
quer, in such hearts as ours ; when, in defiance of an evil 
nature and an evil world, and all the force and subtlety of 
Satan, a weak worm is still upheld, and enabled not only to 
climb, but to thresh the mountains ; when a small spark 
is preserved through storms and floods. In these circum 
stances, the work of grace is to be estimated, not merely 
from its imperfect appearance, but from the difficulties it 
has to struggle with and overcome ; and, therefore, our 
holiness does not consist in great attainments, but in 
spiritual desires, in hungerings, thirsting*, and mournings ; 
in humiliation of heart, poverty of spirit, submission, 


meekness ; in cordial admiring thoughts of Jesus, and 
dependence upon Him alone for all we want. Indeed these 
may be said to be great attainments ; but they who have 
most of them are most sensible that they, in and of them 
selves, are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing, and see 
daily cause for abhorring themselves, and repenting in dust 
and ashes. 

Our view of death will not always be alike, but in pro 
portion to the degree in which the Holy Spirit is pleased 
to communicate His sensible influence. We may anticipate 
the moment of dissolution with pleasure and desire in the 
morning, and be ready to shrink from the thought of it 
before night. But though our frames and perceptions vary, 
the report of faith concerning it is the same. The Lord 
usually reserves dying strength for a dying hour. When 
Israel was to pass Jordan, the ark was in the river ; and 
though the rear of the host could not see it, yet as they 
successively came forward and approached the banks, they 
all beheld the ark, and all went safely over. As you are not 
weary of living, if it be the Lord s pleasure, so I hope, for the 
sake of your friends and the people whom you love, He will 
spare you amongst us a little longer ; but when the time 
shall arrive which He has appointed for your dismission, 
I make no doubt but He will overpower all your fears, silence 
all your enemies, and give you a comfortable, triumphant 
entrance into His kingdom. You have nothing to fear from 
death ; for Jesus, by dying, has disarmed it of its sting, 
has perfumed the grave, and opened the gates of glory for 
His believing people. Satan, so far as He is permitted, will 
assault our peace, but He is a vanquished enemy : our Lord 
holds him in a chain, and sets him bounds which he cannot 
pass. He provides for us likewise the whole armour of 
God, and has promised to cover our heads Himself in the 
days of battle, to bring us honourably through every skirm 
ish, and to make us more than conquerors at last. If you 

think my short unexpected interview with Mr. C 

may justify my wishing he should know that I respect his 
character, love his person, and rejoice in what the Lord 
has done and is doing for him and by him, I beg you to 
tell him so ; but I leave it entirely to you. 

We join in most affectionate respects. I am, &c. 





DEAR SIR, March 7, 1765. 

YOUR favour of the igth February came to my hand 
yesterday. I have read it with attention, and very wil 
lingly sit down to offer you my thoughts. Your case 
reminds me of my own : my first desires towards the 
ministry were attended with great uncertainties and diffi 
culties, and the perplexity of my own mind was heightened 
by the various and opposite judgments of my friends. The 
advice I have to offer is the result of painful experience and 
exercise, and for this reason, perhaps, may not be unaccept 
able to you. I pray our gracious Lord to make it useful. 

I was long distressed, as you are, about what was or was 
not a proper call to the ministry ; it now seems to me an 
easy point to solve, but perhaps will not be so to you, till 
the Lord shall make it clear to yourself in your own case. 
I have not room to say as much as I could : in brief, I think 
it principally includes three things : 

i. A warm and earnest desire to be employed in this 
service. I apprehend, the man who is once moved by the 
Spirit of God to this work, will prefer it, if attainable, to 
thousands of gold and silver ; so that though he is at times 
intimidated by a sense of its importance and difficulty, com 
pared with his own great insufficiency, (for it is to be pre 
sumed a call of this sort, if indeed from God, will be accom 
panied with humility and self-abasement,) yet he cannot give 
it up. I hold it a good rule to inquire on this point, whether 
the desire to preach is most fervent in our most lively and 



spiritual frames, and when we are most laid in the dust 
before the Lord ? If so, it is a good sign. But if, as is 
sometimes the case, a person is very earnest to be a preacher 
to others, when he finds but little hungerings and thirsting* 
after grace in his own soul, it is then to be feared, his zeal 
springs rather from a selfish principle, than from the Spirit 
of God. 

2. Besides this affectionate desire and readiness to preach, 
there^must in due season appear some competent sufficiency, 
as to gifts, knowledge and utterance. Surely if the Lord 
sends a man to teach others, He will furnish him with the 
means. I believe many have intended well in setting up for 
preachers, who yet went beyond or before their call in so 
doing. The main difference between a minister and a private 
Christian seems to consist in these ministerial gifts, which 
are imparted to him, not for his own sake, but for the 
edification of others. But then I say, these are to appear 
in due season : they are not to be expected instantaneously, 
but gradually, in the use of proper means. They are 
necessary for the discharge of the ministry ; but not neces 
sary as pre-requisites to warrant our desires after it. In 
your case, you are young, and have time before you ; there 
fore, I think you need not as yet perplex yourself with 
inquiring if you have these gifts already : it is sufficient 
if your desire is fixed, and you are willing, in the way of 
prayer and diligence, to wait upon the Lord for them, 
as yet you need them not. 

3. That which finally evidences a proper call, is a corre 
spondent opening in providence, by a gradual train of 
circumstances, pointing out the means, the time, the place, 
of actually entering upon the work. And till this coinci 
dence arrives, you must not expect to be always clear from 
hesitation in your own mind. The principal caution on this 
head, is not to be too hasty in catching at first appearances. 
If it be the Lord s will to bring you into His ministry , He has 
already appointed your place and service ; and though you 
know it not at present, you shall at a proper time. If you 
had the talents of an angel, you could do no good \vith them 
till His hour is come, and till He leads you to the people 
whom He has determined to bless by your means. It is 
very difficult to restrain ourselves within the bounds of 


prudence here ; when our zeal is warm, a sense of the love 
of Christ upon our hearts, and a tender compassion for 
poor sinners, are ready to prompt us to break out too soon ; 
but he that believeth shall not make haste. I was about 
five years under this constraint : sometimes I thought I 
must preach, though it was in the streets. I listened to 
every thing that seemed plausible, and to many things which 
were not so. But the Lord graciously, and as it were 
insensibly, hedged up my way with thorns ; otherwise, if I 
had been left to my own spirit, I should have put it quite out 
of my power to have been brought into such a sphere of 
usefulness, as He in His good time has been pleased to lead 
me to. And I can now see clearly, that at the time I would 
first have gone out, though my intention was, I hope, good 
in the main, yet I overrated myself, and had not that 
spiritual judgment and experience which are requisite for 
so great a service. I wish you, therefore, to take time ; 
and if you have a desire to enter into the Established Church, 
endeavour to keep your zeal within moderate bounds, 
and avoid every thing that might unnecessarily clog your 
admission with difficulties. I would not have you hide your 
profession, or to be backward to speak for God ; but avoid 
what looks like preaching, and be content with being a 
learner in the school of Christ for some years. The delay 
will not be lost time ; you will be so much the more 

1 / 

acquainted with the Gospel, with your own heart, and with 
human nature ; the last is a necessary branch of a minister s 
knowledge, and can only be acquired by comparing what 
passes within us, and around us, with what we read in the 
word of God. 

I am glad to find you have a distaste both for Arminian 
and Antinomian doctrines ; but let not the mistakes of 
others sit too heavy upon you. Be thankful for the grace 
that has made you to differ : be ready to give a reason of 
the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear ; but beware 
of engaging in disputes, without evident necessity, and 
some probable hope of usefulness. They tend to eat out 
the life and savour of religion, and to make the soul lean and 
dry. Where God has begun a real work of grace, incidental 
mistakes will be lessened by time and experience ; where 
He has not, it is of little signification what sentiments 


people hold, or whether they call themselves Arminians or 

I agree with you, it is time enough for you to think of 
Oxford yet ; and that if your purpose is fixed, and all 
circumstances render it prudent and proper to devote your 
self to the ministry, you will do well to spend a year or 
two in private studies. It would be further helpful, in this 
view, to place yourself where there is Gospel preaching, 
and a lively people. If your favourable opinion of this 
place should induce you to come here, I shall be very ready 
to give you every assistance in my power. As I have trod 
exactly the path you seem to be setting out in, I might so far 
perhaps, be more serviceable than those who are in other 
respects much better qualified to assist you. I doubt not 
but in this, and every other step, you will intreat the Lord s 
direction ; and I hope you will not forget to pray for, 

Sir, your affectionate friend, &c. 


DEAR SIR, January 7, 1767. 

I MUST beg you (once for all) to release me from any 
constraint about the length or frequency of my letters. 
Believe that I think of you, and pray for you, when you do 
not hear me. Your correspondence is not quite so large as 
mine, therefore you may write the oftener : your letters 
will be always welcome ; and I will write to you when I 
find a leisure hour, and have any thing upon my mind to 

You seem insensible where your most observable failing 
lies, and to take reproof and admonition concerning it in 
good part ; I therefore hope and believe the Lord will give 
you a growing victory over it. You must not expect 
habits and tempers will be eradicated instantaneously ; 
but by perseverance and prayer, and observation upon the 
experience of every day, much may be done in time. Now 
and then you will (as is usual in the course of war) lose a 
battle ; but be not discouraged, but rally your forces, and 


return to the fight. There is a comfortable word, a leaf of 
the tree of life, for healing the wounds we receive, in I John 
ii. i. If the enemy surprises you, and your heart smites 
you, do not stand astonished as if there was no help, nor give 
way to sorrow as if there was no hope, nor attempt to heal 
yourself ; but away immediately to the throne of grace, 
to the Great Physician, to the compassionate High Priest, 
and tell Him all. Satan knows, that if he can keep 
us from confession, our wounds will rankle ; but do 
you profit by David s experience, Psa. xxxii. 3-5. When 
we are simple and open hearted in abasing ourselves before 
the Lord, though we have acted foolishly and ungratefully, 
He will seldom let us remain long, without affording us a 
sense of His compassion ; for He is gracious ; He knows our 
frame, and how to bear with us though we can hardly bear 
with ourselves, or with one another. 

The main thing is to have the heart right with God : 
this will bring us in the end safely through many mistakes 
and blunders : but a double mind, a selfish spirit, that 
would halve tilings between God and the world, the Lord 
abhors. Though I have not yet had many opportunities 
of commending your prudence, I have always had a good 
opinion of your sincerity and integrity ; if I am not mistaken 
in this, I make no doubt of your doing well. If the Lord is 
pleased to bless you, He will undoubtedly make you hum 
ble ; for you cannot be either happy or safe, or have any 
probable hope of abiding usefulness, without it. I do not 
know that I have had any thing so much at heart in my 
connexions with you, as to impress you with a sense of the 
necessity and advantages of an humble frame of spirit : 
I hope it has not been in vain. O ! to be little in our 
own eyes ! this is the groundwork of every grace ; this 
leads to a continual dependence upon the Lord Jesus ; 
this is the spirit which He has promised to bless ; this 
conciliates us good-will and acceptance amongst men ; 
for he that abaseth himself is sure to be honoured. And 
that this temper is so hard to attain and preserve, is a 
striking proof of our depravity. For are we not sinners ? 
Were we not rebels and enemies before we knew the Gospel ? 
and have we not been unfaithful, backsliding, and unprofit 
able ever since ? Are we not redeemed bv the blood of 


Jesus and can we stand a single moment except He 
upholds us ? Have we any thing which we have not 
received or have we received any thing which we have not 
abused ? Why then is dust and ashes proud ? 

I am glad you have found some spiritual acquaintance 
in your barren land. I hope you will be helpful to them, 
and they to you. You do well to guard against every appear 
ance of evil. If you are heartily for Jesus, Satan owes you 
a grudge. One way or other he will try to cut you out 
work, and the Lord may suffer him to go to the length of 
lus chain. But though you are to keep your eye upon him, 
and expect to hear from him at every step, you need not be 
slavishly afraid of him ; for Jesus is stronger and wiser than 
he, and there is a complete suit of armour provided for all 
who are engaged on the Lord s side. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, October 20, 1767. 

A CONCERN for the perplexity you have met with, from 
objections which have been made against some expressions 
in my printed sermons, and, in general, against exhorting 
sinners to believe in Jesus, engages me to write immediately ; 
otherwise I should have waited a little longer ; for we are 
now upon the point of removing to the vicarage, and I 
believe this will be the last letter I shall write from the old 
house. I shall chiefly confine myself at present to the subject 
you propose. 

In the first place, I beg you to be upon your guard 
against a reasoning spirit. Search the Scriptures; and 
where you can find a plain rule or warrant for any practice, 
go boldly on ; and be not discouraged because you may not 
be clearly able to answer or reconcile every difficulty that 
may either occur to your own mind, or be put in your 
way by others. Our hearts are very dark and narrow, and 
the very root of all apostacy is a proud disposition to 
question the necessity or propriety of Divine appointments. 


But the child-like simplicity of faith is to follow God without 
reasoning ; taking it for granted a tiling must be right if 
He directs it, and charging all seeming inconsistencies to 
the account of our own ignorance. 

I suppose the people that trouble you upon this head are 
of two sorts : ist, Those that preach upon Arminian princi 
ples and suppose a free will in man, in a greater or less degree, 
to turn to God when the Gospel is proposed. These, if 
you speak to sinners at large, though they will approve of 
your doing so, will take occasion perhaps to charge you with 
acting in contradiction to our own principles. So it seems 

Mr. has said. I love and honour that man greatly, 

and I beg you will tell him so from me ; and tell him farther, 
that the reason why he is not a Calvinist, is because he 
misapprehends our principles. If I had a proper call, I 
would undertake to prove the direct contrary ; namely 
that to exhort and deal plainly with sinners, to stir them 
up to flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold of eternal 
life, is an attempt not reconcileable to sober reason upon any 
other grounds than those doctrines which we are called 
Calvinists for holding ; and that all the absurdities which 
are charged upon us, as consequences of what we teach, 
are indeed truly chargeable upon those who differ from us 
in these points. I think this unanswerably proved by Mr. 
Edwards, in his discourse on the freedom of the will ; though 
the chain of reasoning is so close, that few will give atten 
tion and pains to pursue it. As to myself, if I were not a 
Calvinist, I think I should have no more hope of success in 
preaching to men, than to horses or cows. 

But these objections are more frequently urged by 
Calvinists themselves ; many of them, I doubt not, good 
men, but betrayed into a curiosity of spirit which often 
makes their ministry (if ministers) dry and inefficacious, 
and their conversation sour and unsavoury. Such a spirit 
is too prevalent in many professors, that if a man discovers 
a warm zeal for the glory of God, arid is enabled to bear a 
faithful testimony to the Gospel truths ; yea, though the 
Lord evidently blesses him, they overlook all, and will 
undervalue a sermon, which upon the whole they cannot but 
acknowledge to be Scriptural, if they meet with a single 
sentence contrary to the opinion they have taken up. I 


am sorry to see such a spirit prevailing. But this I observe, 
that the ministers who give in to this way, though good men 
and good preachers in other respects, are seldom very useful 
or very zealous ; and those who are in private life, are 
more ready for dry points of disputation, at least harping 
upon a string of doctrines, than for experimental and heart- 
searching converse, whereby one may warm and edify 
another. Blessed be God, who has kept me and my people 
from this turn : if it should ever creep in or spread amongst 
us, I should be ready to write Ichabod upon our assemblies. 
I advise you, therefore, to keep close to the Bible and 
prayer ; bring your difficulties to the Lord, and entreat Him 
to give you, and maintain in you, a simple spirit. Search 
the Scriptures. How did Peter deal with Simon Magus ? 
We have no right to think worse of any who can hear us than 
the apostle did of him. He seemed almost to tliink his case 
desperate, and yet he advised him to repentance and prayer. 
Examine the same apostle s discourse, Acts hi., and the 
close of St. Paul s sermon, Acts xiii. The power is all of 
God ; the means are likewise of His appointment ; and He 
always is pleased to work by such means as may show that 
the power is His. What was Moses s rod in itself ; or the 
trumpets that threw down Jericho ? What influence 
could the pool of Siloam have, that the eyes of the blind 
man by washing in it should be opened ; or what could 
Ezekiel s feeble breath contribute to the making dry bones 
live ? All these means were exceedingly disproportionate 
to the effect ; but He who ordered them to be used, accom 
panied them with His power. Yet if Moses had gone without 
his rod, if Joshua had slighted the rams horns, if the 
prophet had thought it foolishness to speak to dry bones, 
or the blind man refused to wash his eyes, nothing could have 
been done. The same holds good on the present subject : I 
do not reason, expostulate, and persuade sinners, because 
I think I can prevail with them, but because the Lord 
hath commanded it. He directs me to address them as 
reasonable creatures ; to take them by every handle ; to 
speak to their consciences ; to tell them of the terrors of 
the Lord, and of His tender mercies ; to argue with them 
what good they find in sin ; whether they do not need a 
Saviour ; to put them in mind of death, judgment, and 


eternity, &c. When I have done all, I know it is to little 
purpose, except the Lord speaks to their hearts ; and this 
to His own, and at His own time, I am sure He will, because 
He has promised it. See Isaiah Iv. 10, n ; Matt, xxviii. 
20. Indeed I have heard expressions in the warmth of 
delivery, which I could not wholly approve, and therefore 
do not imitate. But, in general, I see no preaching made 
very useful for the gathering of souls, where poor sinners 
are shut out of the discourse. I think one of the closest and 
most moving addresses to sinners I ever met with is in Dr. 
Owen s Exposition of the i3oth Psalm (in my edition, 
from p. 243 to 276). If you get it and examine it, I think 
you will find it all agreeable to Scripture ; and he was a 
steady, deep-sighted Calvinist. I wish you to study it 
well, and make it your pattern. He handles the same 
point likewise in other places, and shows the weakness of 
the exceptions taken somewhere at large, but I cannot just 
now find the passage. Many thnik themselves quite right, 
because they have not had their thoughts exercised at 
large, but have confined themselves to one track. There are 
extremes in everything. I pray God to show you the golden 

I am, &c. 

DEAR SIR, August 30, 1770. 

I WOULD steal a few minutes here to write, lest I should 
not have leisure at home. I have not your letter with me, 
and therefore can only answer so far as I retain a general 
remembrance of the contents. 

You will doubtless find rather perplexity than advantage 
from the multiplicity of advice you may receive, if you 
endeavour to reconcile and adopt the very different senti 
ments of your friends. I think it will be best to make use of 
them in a full latitude, that is, to correct and qualify them 
one by another, and to borrow a little from each, without 
confining yourself entirely to any. You will probably be 


advised to different extremes, it will then be impossible 
to follow both ; but it may be practicable to find a middle 
path between them : and I believe this will generally prove 
the best and safest method. Only consult your own temper, 
and endeavour to incline rather to that side to which you 
are the least disposed by the ordinary strain of your own 
inclination ; for on that side you will be in the least danger 
of erring. Warm and hasty dispositions will seldom move 
too- slowly, and those who are naturally languid and cool 
are as little liable to over-act their part. 

With respect to the particulars you instance, I have 
generally thought you warm and enterprising enough, 
and therefore thought it best to restrain you ; but I meant 
only to hold you in, till you had acquired some farther 
knowledge and observation both of yourself and of others. 
I have the pleasure to hope (especially of late) that you are 
become more self-diffident and wary than you were some 
time ago. And, therefore, as your years and time are advanc 
ing, and you have been for a tolerable space under a proba 
tion of silence, I can make no objection to your attempting 
sometimes to speak in select societies ; but let your attempts 
be confined to such, I mean where you are acquainted with 
the people, or the leading part of them, and be upon your 
guard against opening yourself too much among strangers ; 
and again, I earnestly desire you would not attempt any 
thing of this sort in a very public way, which may, perhaps, 
bring you under inconveniences, and will be inconsistent 
with the part you ought to act (in my judgment) from the 
time you receive episcopal ordination. You may remember 
a simile I have sometimes used of green fruit : children are 
impatient to have it while it is green, but persons of more 
judgment will wait till it is ripe. Therefore, I would wish 
your exhortations to be brief, private, and not very frequent. 
Rather give yourself to reading, meditation, and prayer. 

As to speaking without notes, in order to do it successfully, 
a fund of knowledge should be first possessed. Indeed, 
in such societies as I hope you will confine your attempts 
to, it would not be practicable to use notes ; but I mean, 
that if you design to come out as a preacher without notes 
from the first, you must use double diligence in study : 
your reading must not be confined to the Scriptures : you 


should be acquainted with church-history, have a general 
view of divinity as a system, know something of the state 
of controversies in past times and at present, and, indeed, 
of the general history of mankind. I do not mean that you 
should enter deeply into these things ; but you will need to 
have your mind enlarged, your ideas increased, your style 
and manner formed ; you should read, think, write, com 
pose, and use all diligence to exercise and strengthen your 
faculties. If you would speak extempore as a clergyman 
you must be able to come off roundly, and to fill up your 
hour with various matter, in tolerable coherence, or else 
you will not be able to overcome the prejudice which usually 
prevails among the people. Perhaps it may be as well to 
use some little scheme in the note way, especially at the 
beginning ; but a little trial will best inform you what is 
the most expedient. 

Let your backwardness to prayer and reading the Scripture 
be ever so great, you must strive against it. The back 
wardness, and the doubts you speak of, are partly from your 
own evil heart, but perhaps chiefly temptations of Satan : 
he knows it, if he can keep you from drawing water out of 
the wells of salvation, he will have much advantage. My 
soul goes often mourning under the same complaints, but 
at times the Lord gives me a little victory. I hope He will 
overrule all our trials to make us more humble, and depend 
ent, and to give us tenderness of spirit towards the distressed. 
The exercised and experienced Christian, by the knowledge 
he has gained of his own heart, and the many difficulties 
he has had to struggle with, acquires a skill and compassion 
in dealing with others ; and without such exercise, all our 
study, diligence, and gifts in other ways, would leave us 
much at a loss in some of the most important parts of our 

You have given yourself to the Lord for the ministry ; 
His providence has thus far favoured your views ; therefore 
harbour not a thought of flinching from the battle, because 
the enemy appears in view, but resolve to endure hardships 
as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Lift up your banner in 
His name ; trust in Him, and He will support you ; but, 
above all things, be sure not to be either enticed or terrified 
from the privilege of a throne of grace. 

c. s 


Who your enemies are, or what they say, I know not ; 
for I never conversed with them. Your friends here have 
thought you at times harsh and hasty in your manner, and 
rather inclining to self-confidence. These things I have 
often reminded you of ; but I considered them as blemishes 
usually attendant upon youth, and which experience, 
temptation, and prayer would correct. I hope and believe 
you will do well. You will have a share in my prayers and 
best advice ; and when I see occasion to offer a word of 
reproof, I shall not use any reserve. 

Yours, &c. 


DEAR SIR, July 25, 1772. 

I AM glad to hear you are accommodated at D- 

where I hope your best endeavours will not be wanting to 
make yourself agreeable, by a humble, inoffensive, and 
circumspect behaviour. 

I greatly approve of your speaking from one of the 
lessons in the afternoon : you will find it a great help to 
bring you gradually to that habit and readiness of expres 
sion which you desire ; and you will, perhaps, find it make 
more impression upon your hearers, than what you read to 
them from the pulpit. However, I would not discourage 
or dissuade you from reading your sermons for a time. 
The chief inconvenience respecting yourself is that which 
you mention. A written sermon is something to lean upon ; 
but it is best for a preacher to lean wholly upon the Lord. 
But set off gradually ; the Lord will not despise the day of 
small things : pray heartily, that your spirit may be right 
with Him, and then all the rest will be well. And keep 
on writing : if you compose one sermon, and should find 
your heart enlarged to preach another, still your labour 
in writing will not be lost. If your conscience bears you 
witness, that you desire to serve the Lord, His promise 
(now He has brought you into the ministry) of a sufficiency 
and ability for the work, belongs to you as much as to 


another. Your borrowing help from others may arise from 
a diffidence of yourself, which is not blameable ; but it 
may arise, in part, likewise from a diffidence of the Lord, 
which is hurtful. I wish you may get encouragement from 
that word, Exodus iv. n, 12. It was a great encourage 
ment to me. While I would press you to diligence in every 
rational means for the improvement of your stock in know 
ledge, and your ability of utterance, I would have you 
remember, that preaching is a gift. It cannot be learned 
by industry and imitation only, as a man may learn to make 
a chair or a table : it comes from above ; and if you patiently 
wait upon God, He will bestow this gift upon you, and 
increase it in you. It will grow by exercise. To him 
that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly." 
And be chiefly solicitous to obtain an unction upon what 
you do say. Perhaps those sermons in which you feel 
yourself most deficient, may be made most useful to others. 
I hope you will endeavour likewise to be plain and familiar 
in your language and manner, though not low or vulgar, so 
as to suit yourself as much as possible to the apprehensions 
of the most ignorant people. There are in all congregations 
some persons exceedingly ignorant : yet they have precious 
souls, and the Lord often calls such. I pray the Lord to 
make you wise to win souls. I hope He will. You cannot 
be too jealous of your own heart ; but let no such instances 
as Mr. - - discourage you. Cry to Him who is able to 
hold you up, that you may be safe, and you shall not cry in 
vain. It is indeed an alarming thought, that a man may 
pray and preach, be useful and acceptable for a time, and 
yet be nothing. But still the foundation of God standeth 
sure. I have a good hope, that I shall never have cause to 
repent the part I have taken in your concerns. While you 
keep in the path of duty, you will find it the path of safety. 
Be punctual in waiting upon God in secret. This is the life 
of everything, the only way, and the sure way, of maintaining 
and renewing your strength. 

I am, &c. 

S 2 





DEAR SIR, June 29, 1757. 

I ENDEAVOUR to be mindful of you in my prayers, 
that you may find both satisfaction and success, and that 
the Lord Himself may be your Light to discover to you 
every part of your duty. I would earnestly press you and 
myself to be followers of those who have been followers of 
Christ ; to aim at a life of self-denial ; to renounce self- 
will, and to guard against self-wisdom. The less we have 
to do with the world the better ; and even in conversing 
with our brethren, we have been, and, unless we watch and 
pray, shall often be, ensnared. Time is precious, and 
opportunities once gone are gone for ever. Even by reading, 
and what we call studying, we may be comparatively losers. 
The shorter way is to be closely waiting upon God in humble, 
secret, fervent prayer. The treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge are in His hands ; and He gives bountifully, 
without upbraiding. On the other hand, whatever we may 
undertake with a sincere desire to promote His glory, we 
may comfortably pursue : nothing is trivial that is done for 
Him. In this view, I would have you, at proper intervals, 
pursue your studies, especially at those times when you are 
unfit for better work. Pray for me that I may be enabled 
to break through the snares of vanity that lie in my way ; 
that I may be crucified with Christ, and live a hidden life 
by faith in Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. 
. . . . Adieu. 




DEAR SIR, August 31, 1757. 

I WISH you much of that spirit which was in the apostle, 
which made him content to become all things to all men, 
that he might gain some. I am persuaded that love and 
humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ, 
and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master. 
If any should seem inclined to treat you with less regard, 
because you are or have been a Methodist teacher, you will 
find forbearance, meekness, and long suffering, the most 
prevailing means to conquer their prejudices. Our Lord 
has not only taught us to expect persecution from the world 
(though this alone is a trial too hard to flesh and blood) 
but we must look for what is much more grievous to a 
renewed mind, to be in some respects slighted, censured, 
and misunderstood, even by our Christian brethren, and 
that, perhaps, in cases where we are really striving to 
promote the glory of God, and the good of souls, and cannot, 
without the reproach of our consciences, alter our conduct, 
however glad we should be to have their approbation. 
Therefore we are required, not only to resist the world, the 
flesh, and the devil, but likewise to bear one another s 
burdens : which plainly intimates there will be something 
to be borne with on all hands ; and happy indeed is he that 
is not offended. You may observe what unjust reports and 
surmises were received, even at Jerusalem, concerning the 
apostle Paul ; and it seems he was condemned unheard, and 
that by many thousands too, Acts xxi. 20, 21 ; but we do 
not find he was at all ruffled, or that he sought to retort 
anything upon them, though, doubtless, had he been so 
disposed, he might have found something to have charged 
them with in his turn ; but he calmly and willingly complied 
with everything in his power to soften and convince them. 
Let us be followers of this pattern, so far as he was a follower 
of Christ ; for even Christ pleased not Himself. How did 
He bear with the mistakes, weakness, intemperate zeal, 
and imprudent proposals, of His disciples while on earth ; 
and how does He bear with the same things from you and 
me, and every one of His followers now ! and do we, can 


we, think much to bear with each other for His sake ? Have 
we all a full remission of ten thousand talents, which we 
owed him, and were utterly unable to pay, and do we 
wrangle amongst ourselves for a few pence ? Good forbid ! 
If you should be numbered among the regular Independ 
ents, I advise you not to offend any of them by unnecessary 
singularities. I wish you not to part with any truth, or 
with anything really expedient ; but if the omitting anything 
of an. indifferent nature will obviate prejudices, and increase 
a mutual confidence, why should not so easy a sacrifice be 
made ? Above all, my dear friend, let us keep close to the 
Lord in a way of prayer : He giveth wisdom that is profitable 
to direct ; He is the Wonderful Counsellor ; there is no 
teacher like Him. Why do the living seek the dead ? 
Why do we weary our friends, and our selves, in running up 
and down, and turning over books for advice ? If we shut 
our eyes upon the world and worldly things, and raise our 
thoughts upwards in humility and silence, should we not 
often hear the secret voice of the Spirit of God whispering 
to our hearts, and pointing out to us the way of truth and 
peace ? Have we not often gone astray, and hurt either 
ourselves or our brethren, for want of attending to this 
divine instruction ? Have we not sometimes mocked God, 
by pretending to ask direction from Him when we had fixed 
our determination beforehand ? It is a great blessing to 
know that we are sincere ; and, next to this, to be convinced 
of our insincerity, and to pray against it. 

I am, &c., 


DEAR SIR, November 21, 1757. 

CAN you forgive so negligent a correspondent ? I 
am indeed ashamed ; but (if that is any good excuse) 
I use you no worse than my other friends. Whatever 
I write, I am obliged to begin with an apology ; for, what 
with business and the incidental duties of every day, my 
time is always mortgaged before it comes into my hands, 


especially as I have so little skill in redeeming and improving 
it. I long to hear from you, and I long to see you ; and, 
indeed, from the terms of yours, I expected you here before 
this, which has been partly a cause of my delay. I have 
mislaid your letter, and cannot remember the particulars ; 
in general, I remember you were well, and going on com 
fortably in your work, which was matter of joy to me ; 
and my poor prayers are for you, that the Lord may own 
and prosper you more and more. The two great points we 
are called to pursue in this sinful divided world, are peace 
and holiness : I hope you are much in the study of them. 
These are the peculiar characteristics of a disciple of Jesus ; 
they are the richest part of the enjoyments of Heaven ; 
and so far as they are received into the heart, they bring 
down Heaven upon earth ; and they are more inseparably 
connected between themselves than some of us are aware. 
The longer I live, the more I see of the vanity and the 
sinfulness of our unchristian disputes : they eat up the 
very vitals of religion. I grieve to think how often I have 
lost my time and my temper in that way, in presuming to 
regulate the vineyards of others, when I have neglected my 
own ; when the beam in my own eye has so contracted 
my sight, that I could discern nothing but the mote in 
my neighbour s. I am now desirous to choose a better 
part. Could I speak the publican s words with a proper 
feeling, I wish not for the tongue of men or angels to fight 
about notions or sentiments. I allow that every branch of 
Gospel truth is precious, that errors are abounding, and that 
it is our duty to bear an honest testimony to what the Lord 
has enabled us to find comfort in, and to instruct with 
meekness such as are willing to be instructed ; but I cannot 
see it my duty, nay, I believe it would be my sin, to attempt 
to beat my notions into other people s heads. Too often 
I have attempted it in time past ; but now I judge, that both 
my zeal and my weapons were carnal. When our dear 
Lord questioned Peter, after his fall and recovery, He said 
not, Art thou wise, learned, and eloquent ? nay, he said 
not, Art thou clear, and sound, and orthodox ? But this 
only, " Lovest thou Me ? " An answer to this was sufficient 
then ; why not now ? Any other answer, we may believe, 
would have been insufficient then. If Peter had made the 


most pompous confession of his faith and sentiments, still 
the first question would have recurred, " Lovest thou 
Me ? " This is a Scripture precedent. Happy the preacher, 
whoever he be, my heart and my prayers are with him, who 
can honestly and steadily appropriate Peter s answer ! Such 
a man, I say, I am ready to hear, though he should be as 
much mistaken in some points as Peter afterwards appears 
to have been in others. What a pity it is, that Christians 
in succeeding ages should think the constraining force 
of th e love of Christ too weak, and suppose the end better 
answered by forms, subscriptions, and questions of their 
own devising ! I cannot acquit even those churches who 
judge themselves nearest the primitive rule in this respect. 
Alas ! will-worship and presumption may creep into the 
best external forms. But the misfortune both in churches 
and private Christians is, that we are too prone rather to 
compare ourselves with others, than to judge by the Scrip 
tures ; and while each can see that they give not in to the 
errors and mistakes of the opposite party, both are ready 
to conclude that they are right : and thus it happens, that 
an attachment to a supposed Gospel order will recommend 
a man sooner and farther to some churches, than an eminency 
of Gospel practice. I hope you will beware of such a 
spirit, whenever you publicly assume the independent char 
acter ; this, like the worm at the root, has nipt the grace 
and hindered the usefulness, of many a valuable man ; 
and those who change sides and opinions are the most liable 
to it. For the pride of our heart insensibly prompts us to 
cast about, far and near, for arguments to justify our own 
behaviour, and makes us too ready to hold the opinions we 
have taken up to the very extreme, that those amongst 
whom we are newly come may not suspect our sincerity. 
In a word, let us endeavour to keep close to God, to be much 
in prayer, to watch carefully over our hearts, and leave the 
busy warm spirits to make the best of their work. The 
secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and that wait 
on Him continually ; to these He will show His covenant, 
not notionally, but experimentally. A few minutes of 
the Spirit s teaching will furnish us with more real useful 
knowledge, than toiling through whole folios of commen 
tators and expositors ; they are useful in their places, and 


are not to be undervalued by those who can perhaps, in 
general, do better without them ; but it will be our wisdom 
to deal less with the streams, and be more close in applying 
to the fountain-head. The Scripture itself, and the Spirit 
of God, are the best and the only sufficient expositors of 
Scripture. Whatever men have valuable in their writings, 
they got it from hence ; and the way is as open to us as to 
any of them. There is nothing required but a teachable 
humble spirit ; and learning, as it is commonly called, is not 
necessary in order to this. I commend you to the grace of 
God, and remain, 

Yours, c. 


DEAR SIR, January 10, 1760. 

I HAVE procured Cennick s sermons ; they are in my 
judgment sound and sweet. O that you and I had a double 
portion of that spirit and unction which is in them ! Come, 
let us not despair ; the fountain is as full and as free as 
ever precious fountain, ever flowing with blood and water, 
milk and wine. This is the stream that heals the wounded, 
refreshes the weary, satisfies the hungry, strengthens the 
weak, and confirms the strong ; it opens the eyes of the 
blind, softens the heart of stone, teaches the dumb to speak, 
and enables the lame and paralytic to walk, to leap, to run, 
to fly, to mount up with eagle s wings : a taste of this 
stream raises earth to Heaven, and brings down Heaven 
upon earth. Nor is it a fountain only ; it is a universal 
blessing, and assumes a variety of shapes to suit itself to 
our wants. It is a sun, a shield, a garment, a shade, a 
banner, a refuge ; it is bread, the true bread, the very staff 
of life ; it is life itself, immortal, eternal life ! 

The cross of Jesus Christ my Lord, 

Is food and med cine, shield and sword. 

Take that for your motto ; wear it in your heart ; keep it 
in your eye ; have it often in your mouth, till you can find 


something better. The cross of Christ is the tree of life 
and the tree of knowledge combined. Blessed be God, there 
is neither prohibition nor flaming sword to keep us back, 
but it stands like a tree by the highway-side, which affords 
its shade to every passenger without distinction. Watch 
and pray. We live in sifting times : error gains ground 
every day. May the name and love of our Saviour Jesus 
keep us and all His people ! Either write or come very soon 

Yours, &c. 


DEAR SIR, November 15, 1760. 

IF your visit should be delayed let me have a letter. 
I want either good news or good advice : to hear that 
your soul prospers, or to receive something that may quicken 
my own. The apostle says, " Ye know the grace of our Lord 
Jesus Christ " ; alas ! we know how to say something about 
it, but how faint and feeble are our real perceptions of it. 
Our love to Him is the proof and measure of what we know 
of His love to us. Surely, then, we are mere children in this 
kind of knowledge, and every other kind is vain. What 
should we think of a man who would neglect his business, 
family, and all the comforts of life, that he might study 
the Chinese language, though he knows beforehand he 
would never be able to attain it, nor ever find occasion or 
opportunity to use it ? The pursuit of every branch of 
knowledge that is not closely connected with the one thing 
needful, is no less ridiculous. 

You know something of our friend Mrs. B - . She 
has been more than a month confined to her bed, and I 
believe her next remove will be to her coffin. The Lord has 
done great things for her. Though she has been a serious, 
exemplary person all her life, when the prospect of death 
presented itself, she began to cry out earnestly, " What shall 
I do to be saved ? " But her solicitude is at an end ; she 
has seen the salvation of God, and now for the most part 


rejoices in something more than hope. This you will account 
good news, I am sure. Let it be your encouragement and 
mine. The Lord s arm is not shortened, nor is His presence 
removed ; He is near us still, though we perceive Him not. 
May He guide you with His eye in all your public and private 
concerns, and may He in particular bless our communications 
to our mutual advantage ! 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, July 29, 1761. 

ARE the quarrels made up ? Tell those who know 
what communion with Jesus is worth, that they will never 
be able to maintain it if they give way to the workings of 
pride, jealousy, and anger. This will provoke the Lord to 
leave them dry, to command the clouds of His grace that 
they rain no rain upon them. These things are sure signs 
of a low frame, and a sure way to keep it so. Could they be 
prevailed upon, from a sense of the pardoning love of God 
to their own souls, to forgive each other as the Lord forgives 
us, freely, fully, without condition, and without reserve, 
they would find this like breaking down a stone wall, which 
has hitherto shut up their prayers from the Lord s ears, and 
shut out His blessing from filling their hearts. Tell them, 
I hope to hear that all animosities, little and big, are buried 
by mutual consent in the Redeemer s grave. Alas ! the 
people of God have enemies enough. Why, then, will they 
weaken their own hands ? Why will they help their enemies 
to pull down the Lord s work ? Why will they grieve those 
that wish them well, cause the weak to stumble, the wicked 
to rejoice, and bring a reproach upon their holy profession ? 
Indeed, this is no light matter : I wish it may not lead them 
to something worse ; I wish they may be wise in time, lest 
Satan gain further advantage over them, and draw them to 
something that shall make them (as David did) roar under 
the pains of broken bones. But I must break off. May 
God give you wisdom, faithfulness, and patience ! Take 


care that you do not catch an angry spirit yourself, while 
you aim to suppress it in others : this will spoil all, and you 
will exhort, advise, and weep in vain. May you rather be 
an example and pattern to the flock : and in this view, be 
not surprised if you yourself meet some hard usage ; rather 
rejoice, that you will thereby have an opportunity to 
exemplify your own rules, and to convince your people, 
that what you recommend to them you do not speak by 
rote^ but from the experience of your heart. One end why 
our Lord was tempted for the encouragement of His poor 
followers, that they might know Him to be a High Priest 
suited to them, having had a fellow-feeling in their distresses. 
For the like reason he appoints His ministers to be sorely 
exercised, both from without and within, that they may 
sympathize with their flock, and know in their own hearts 
the deceitfulness of sin, the infirmities of the flesh, and the 
way in which the Lord supports and bears with all that trust 
Him. Therefore be not discouraged ; usefulness and trials, 
comforts and crosses, strength and exercise, go together. 
But remember He has said, " I will never leave thee, nor 
forsake thee ; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give 
thee a crown of life." When you get to Heaven, you will 
not complain of the way by which the Lord brought you. 
Farewell. Pray for us. 

Yours, &c. 


DEAR SIR, December 14, 1761. 

I PRAY the Lord to accompany you ; but cannot help 
fearing you go on too fast. If you have not (as I am sure 
you ought not) made an absolute promise, but only a 
conditional one, you need not be so solicitous ; depend upon 
it, when the Lord is pleased to remove you, He will send 
one to supply your place. I am grieved that your mind 
is so set upon a step which, I fear, will occasion many 
inconveniences to a people who have deserved your best 
regard. Others may speak you fairer, but none wishes you 


better, than myself ; therefore I hope you allow me to speak 
my mind plainly, and believe that it is no pleasure to me 
to oppose your inclinations. As to your saying they 
will take no denial, it has no weight with me. Had they 
asked what you were exceedingly averse to, you would soon 
have expressed yourself so as to convince them it was to no 
purpose to urge you ; but they saw something in your 
manner or language that encouraged them ; they saw the 
proposal was agreeable to you, that you were not at all 
unwilling to exchange your old friends for new ones ; and 
this is the reason they would take no denial. If you should 
live to see those who are most forward in pressing you 
become the first to discourage you, you will think seriously 
of my words. 

If I thought my advice would prevail, it should be this : 
Call the people together, and desire them (if possible) to 
forget you ever intended to depart from them ; and promise 
not to think of a removal, till the Lord shall make your way 
so clear, that even they shall have nothing reasonable to 
object against it. You may keep your word with your 
other friends too ; for when a proper person shall offer, as. 
likely to please and satisfy the people as yourself, I will 
give my hearty consent to your removal. 

Consider what it is you would have in your office, but 
maintenance, acceptance, and success. Have you not 
those where you are ? Are you sure of having them where 
you are going ? Are you sure the Spirit of God (without 
which you will do nothing) will be with you there, as He has 
been with you hitherto ? Perhaps, if you act in your own 
spirit, you may find as great a change as Samson. I am 
ready to weep when I think what difficulties were surmounted 
to accomplish your ordination ; and now, when the people 
thought themselves fixed, that you should so soon disappoint 

Yours, &c. 



DEAR SIR, February 15, 1762. 

I HAVE been often thinking of you since your removal, 
and was glad to receive your letter to-day. I hope you 
will still go on to find more and more encouragement to 
believe, that the Lord has disposed and led you to the 
step^ou have taken. For though I wrote with the greatest 
plainness and earnestness, and would, if in my power, have 
prevented it while under deliberation, yet, now it is done 
and past recall, I would rather help than dishearten you. 
Indeed, I cannot say that my view of the affair is yet 
altered. The best way not to be cast down hereafter, is 
not to be too sanguine at first. You know there is something 
pleasing in novelty ; as yet you are new to them, and they 
to you : I pray God that you may find as cordial a regard 
from them as at present, when you have been with them 
as many years as in the place you came from. And if you 
have grace to be watchful and prayerful, all will be well ; 
for we serve a gracious Master, who knows how to over 
rule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage. 
Yet I observe, that when we do wrong, sooner or later we 
smart for our indiscretion ; perhaps many years afterwards. 
After we have seen and confessed our fault, and received 
repeated proofs of pardoning love, as to the guilt ; yet 
chastisement, to remind us more sensibly of our having 
done amiss, will generally find us out. So it was with 
David in the matter of Uriah ; the Lord put away his sin, 
healed his broken bones, and restored unto him the light of 
His countenance ; yet many troubles, in consequence of 
this affair, followed one upon another, till at length (many 
years afterwards) he was driven from Jerusalem by his own 
son. So it was with Jacob : he dealt deceitfully with his 
brother Esau ; notwithstanding this, the Lord appeared 
to him and blessed him, gave him comfortable promises, 
and revealed Himself to him from time to time ; yet, after 
an interval of twenty years, his fault was brought afresh 
to his remembrance, and his heart trembled within him 
when he heard his brother was coming with armed men to 
meet him. And thus I have found it in my own experience : 


things which I had forgotten a long while have been 
brought to my mind by providential dispensations which 
I little expected, but the first rise of which I have been 
able to trace far back, and forced to confess, that the Lord 
is indeed He that judgeth the heart and trieth the reins. 
I hint this for your caution : you know best upon what 
grounds you have proceeded ; but if, (though I do not affirm 
it, I hope otherwise,) I say, if you have acted too much in 
your own spirit, been too hasty and precipitate ; if you 
have not been sufficiently tender of your people, nor 
thoughtful of the consequences which your departure will 
probably involve them in ; if you have been impatient under 
the Lord s hand, and instead of waiting His time and way 
of removing the trials and difficulties you found, have 
ventured upon an attempt to free and mend yourself: 
I say, if any of these things have mixed with your deter 
minations, something will fall out to show you your fault : 
either you will not find the success you hope for, or friends 
will grow cold, or enemies and difficulties you dream not 
of will present themselves, or your own mind will alter, 
so that what seems now most pleasant will afford you 
little pleasure. Yet though I write thus, I do not mean 
(as I said before) to discourage you, but that you may be 
fore-warned, humble, and watchful. If you should at any 
time have a different view of things, you may take comfort 
from the instances I have mentioned. The trials of David 
and Jacob were sharp ; but they were short, and they proved 
to their advantage, put them upon acts of humiliation and 
prayer, and ended in a double blessing. Nothing can harm 
us that quickens our earnestness and frequency in applying 
to a throne of grace : only trust the Lord and keep close 
to Him, and all that befalls you shall be for good. Tempta 
tions end in victory ; troubles prove an increase of consola 
tion ; yea, our very falls and failings tend to increase 
our spiritual wisdom, to give us a greater knowledge of 
Satan s devices, and make us more habitually upon our 
guard against them. Happy case of the believer in Jesus ! 
when bitten by the fiery serpent he needs not go far for 
a remedy ; he has only to look to a bleeding Saviour, and 
be healed. 

I think one great advantage that attends a removal 


into a new place is, that it gives an easy opportunity of 
forming a new plan, and breaking off any little habits 
which we have found inconvenient, and yet perhaps could 
not so readily lay aside where our customs and acquaintance 
had been long formed. I earnestly recommend to you to 
reflect, if you cannot recollect some things which you have 
hitherto omitted, which may properly be now taken up ; 
some things formerly allowed, which may now with ease 
and convenience be laid aside. I only give the hint in 
geneYal ; for I have nothing in particular to charge you with. 
I recommend to you to be very choice of your time, especially 
the fore part of the day ; let your morning hours be devoted 
to prayer, reading, and study ; and suffer not the impor 
tunity of friends to rob you of the hours before noon, without 
a just necessity : and if you accustom yourself to rise early 
in the morning, you will find a great advantage. Be 
careful to avoid losing your thoughts, whether in books or 
otherwise, upon any subjects which are not directly sub 
servient to your great design, till towards dinner time ; 
the afternoon is not so favourable to study ; this is a proper 
time for paying and receiving visits, conversing among 
your friends, or unbending with a book of instructive 
entertainment, such as history, &c., which may increase 
your general knowledge, without a great confinement of 
your attention ; but let the morning hours be sacred. I 
think you would likewise find advantage in using your 
pen more ; write short notes upon the Scriptures you read, 
or transcribe the labours of others ; make extracts from 
your favourite authors, especially those who, besides a 
fund of spiritual and evangelical matter, have a happy 
talent of expressing their thoughts in a clear and lively, 
or pathetic manner ; you would find a continued exercise 
in this way would be greatly useful to form your own style, 
and help your delivery and memory ; you would become 
insensibly master of their thoughts, and find it more easy 
to express yourself justly and clearly : what we only read 
we easily lose, but what we commit to paper is not so soon 
forgotten. Especially remember, (what you well know, 
but we cannot too often remind each other,) that frequent 
secret prayer is the life of all we do. If any man lack wisdom 
let him ask of God, and it shall be given ; but all our diligence 


will fail if we are remiss in this particular. I am glad it 
is not thought necessary for you to go to London on this 
occasion. I hope you will not think it necessary upon any 
other account. Rather keep close to the work you have 
undertaken, and endeavour to avoid anything that looks 
like ostentation, or a desire to be taken notice of. You 
see I advise you with the freedom of a friend who loves 
you, and longs to see your work and your soul prosper. 

You will, I doubt not, endeavour to promote the practice 
of frequent prayer in the houses that receive you. I look 
upon prayer-meetings as the most profitable exercises 
(excepting the public preaching) in which Christians can 
engage ; they have a direct tendency to kill a worldly, 
trifling spirit, to draw down a Divine blessing upon all our 
concerns, compose differences, and enkindle (at least to 
maintain) the flame of Divine love amongst brethren. But 
I need not tell you the advantages ; you know them : I 
only would exhort you ; and the rather, as I find in my own 
case the principal cause of my leanness and unfruitfulness 
is owing to an unaccountable backwardness to pray. I 
can write, or read, or converse, or hear, with a ready will ; 
but prayer is more spiritual and inward than any of these ; 
and the more spiritual any duty is, the more my carnal 
heart is apt to start from it. May the Lord pour forth His 
precious spirit of prayer and supplication in both our hearts ! 

I am not so well pleased with the account you give of 
so many dry bones. It increases my wonder that you 
could so readily exchange so much plump flesh and blood 
as you had about you, for a parcel of skeletons. I wish they 
may not haunt you, and disturb your peace. I wish these 
same dry bones do not prove thorns in your sides and in 
your eyes. You say, now you have to pray and prophesy, 
and wait for the four winds to come and put life into those 
bones. God grant that your prayers may be answered ; 
but if I knew a man who possessed a field in a tolerable 
soil, which had afforded him some increase every year ; 
and if this man, after having bestowed seven years labour 
in cultivating, .weeding, manuring, fencing, &c., just when he 
has brought his ground (in his neighbour s judgment) into 
good order, and might reasonably hope for larger crops 
than he had ever yet seen, should suddenly forego all his 
c. T 


advantages, leave his good seed for the birds to eat, pull up 
the young fences which cost him so much pains to plant, 
and all this for the sake of making a new experiment upon 
the top of a mountain, though I might heartily wish him 
great success, I could not honestly give him great encourage 
ment. You have parted with that for a trifle, which in 
my eyes seems an inestimable jewel ; I mean the hearts 
and affections of an enlightened people. This appears to 
me, one of the greatest honours and greatest pleasures a 
faithful minister can possess, and which many faithful 
and eminent ministers have never been able to obtain. 
This gave you a vast advantage ; your gift was more accept 
able there than that of any other person, and more than 
you will probably find elsewhere. For I cannot make a 
comparison between the hasty approbation of a few, whose 
eyes are but beginning to open, and their affections and 
passions warm, so that they must, if possible, have the man 
that first catches their attention ; I say I cannot think this 
worthy to be compared to the regard of a people who under 
stood the Gospel, were able to judge of men and doctrines, 
and had trial of you for so many years. It is, indeed, much 
to your honour, (it proves that you were faithful, diligent, 
and exemplary,) that the people proved so attached to you ; 
but that you should force yourself from them, when they 
so dearly loved you, and so much needed you, this has made 
all your friends in these parts to wonder, and your enemies 
to rejoice ; and I, alas ! know not what to answer in your 
behalf to either. Say not, " I hate this Micaiah, for he 
prophesies not good of me, but evil " ; but allow me the 
privilege of a friend. My heart is full when I think of what 
has happened, and what will probably be the consequence. 
In a few words, I am strongly persuaded you have taken 
an unadvised step, and would therefore prepare you for 
the inconvenience and uneasiness you may probably meet 
with. And if I am (as I desire I may prove) mistaken, my 
advice will do no harm ; you will want something to balance 
the caresses and success you meet with. 

We should be very glad to see you, and hope you will 
take your measures, when you do come, to lengthen your 
usual stay, in proportion to the difference of the distance. 
Pray for us. I am, &c. 





MY DEAR MADAM, May 1774. 

I HAVE had sudden notice, that I may send you a hasty 
line, to express our satisfaction in hearing that you had 
a safe though perilous journey : I hope I shall be always 
mindful to pray that the Lord may guide, bless, and 
comfort you, and give you such a manifestation of His 
person, power, and grace, as may set you at liberty from 
all fear, and fill you with abiding peace and joy in believing. 
Remember that Jesus has all power, the fulness of com 
passion, and embraces with open arms all that come to Him 
for life and salvation. 

I know not whether Mrs. s illness was before or since 

my last. Through mercy she is better again ; and I remain 
so, though death and illness are still walking about the 
town. O for grace to take warning by the sufferings of 
others, and sit loose to the world, and so number our days 
as to incline our hearts to the one thing needful ! Indeed, 
that one thing includes many things, sufficient to engage the 
best of our thoughts and the most of our time, if we were duly 
sensible of their importance : but I may adopt the Psalmist s 
expression, " My soul cleaveth to the dust." How is it 
that the truths of which I have the most undoubted convic 
tion, and which are of all others the most weighty, should 
make so little impression upon me ? Oh ! I know the cause ; 
it is deeply rooted. An evil nature cleaves to me ; so that 
when I would do good, evil is present with me. It is, how 
ever, a mercy to be made sensible of it, and in any measure 

291 T2 


humble for it. Ere long it will be dropped in the grave ; 
then all compliments shall cease. That thought gives 
relief. I shall not always live this poor dying life ; I hope 
one day to be all ear, all heart, all tongue ; when I shall see 
the Redeemer as He is, I shall be like Him. This will be a 
Heaven indeed, to behold His glory without a veil, to rejoice 
in His love without a cloud, and to sing His praises, without 
one jarring or wandering note, for ever. In the mean time, 
may He enable us to serve Him with our best. O that every 
power, faculty, and talent, were devoted to Him ! He 
deserves all we have, and ten thousand times more if we 
had it ; for He has loved us, and washed us from our sins 
in His own blood. He gave Himself for us. In one sense, 
we are well suited to answer His purpose ; for if we were 
not vile and worthless beyond expression, the exceeding 
riches of His grace would not have been so gloriously dis 
played. His glory shines more in redeeming one sinner, 
than in preserving a thousand angels. Poor Mr. - - is 
still in the dark valley, but we trust prayer shall yet bring 
him out. Mighty things have been done in answer to prayer, 
and the Lord s arm is not shortened, neither is His ear heavy. 
It is our part to wait till we have an answer. One of His 
own hymns says, 

The promise may be long deferr d, 
But never comes too late. 

I suppose you have heard of the death of Mr. T , 

of R . This is apparently a heavy blow. He was 

an amiable, judicious, candid man, and an excellent preacher, 
in a great sphere of usefulness ; and his age and constitution 
gave hopes that he might have been eminently serviceable 
for many years. How often does the Lord write "vanity" 
upon all our expectations from men. He visited a person 
ill of a putrid fever, and carried the seeds of infection with 

him to London, where he died. Mrs. is a very excellent 

and accomplished woman, but exceedingly delicate in her 
frame and spirits. How can she bear so sudden and severe 
a stroke ! But yet I hope she will afford a proof of the Lord s 
all-sufficiency and faithfulness. Oh, Madam, the Lord our 
God is a great God ! If He frowns, the smiles of the whole 
creation can afford no comfort ; and if He is pleased to 


smile, He can enable the soul under the darkest dispensations 
to say, " All is well." Yet the flesh will feel, and it ought ; 
otherwise the exercise of faith, patience, and resignation, 
would be impracticable. I have lost in him one of my most 
valued and valuable friends ; but what is my loss to that 
of his people ? 

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord increase 
you more and more, you and your children. The Lord lift 
up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you His 
peace. I thank Him for leading you to us, but especially 
for making your visit there in any measure agreeable and 
profitable to yourself. If I have been an instrument in His 
hand for your comfort, I have reason to remember it among 
the greatest favours He has conferred upon me. And now, 
dear Madam, once more, farewell. If the Lord spares 
our lives, I hope we shall see each other again upon earth. 
But above all, let us rejoice in the blessed Gospel, by which 
immortality is brought to light, and a glorious prospect 
opened beyond the grave. 

There sits our Saviour thron d in light, 
Clothed with a body like our own. 

There at last, after all the changes and trials of this state, 
we shall meet to part no more. 

I am, &c. 



I SHOULD have been more uneasy at being prevented 
writing immediately, had I any reason to apprehend my 
advice necessary upon the point you propose, which by this 
time I suppose is settled as it should be without me. I 
smiled at Miss M s disappointment. However, if the 
Lord favours her with a taste for the library of my proposing, 
she will be like the merchant man seeking goodly pearls, 
and will count all other books but pebbles in comparison of 
those four volumes, which present us with something new 


and important whenever we look into them. I shall be much 
obliged to her, if she will commit the third chapter of Proverbs 
to her memory, and I shall pray the Lord to write it in her 

You surprise me when you tell me that the incident of 
my birthday was noticed by those I never saw. Be so good 
as to return my thanks to my unknown friends, and tell 
them that I pray our common Lord and Saviour to bless 
them abundantly. His people, while here, are scattered 
abroad, separated by hills and rivers, and too often by names 
and prejudices ; but, by and bye, we shall all meet where 
we shall all know and acknowledge each other, and rejoice 
together for evermore. I have lately read with much 
pleasure, and I hope with some profit, the history of the 
Greenland Mission. Upon the whole, it is a glorious work. 
None who love the Lord will refuse to say, it is the finger of 
God indeed. For my own part, my soul rejoices in it ; 
and I honour the instruments, as men who have hazarded 
their lives in an extraordinary manner for the sake of the 
Lord Jesus. Sure I am, that none could have sustained 
such discouragements at first, or have obtained such success 
afterwards, unless the Lord had sent, supported, and owned 

I hope we shall have an interest in your prayers. I trust 
the Lord is yet with us. We have some ripe for the sickle, 
and some just springing up ; some tokens of His gracious 
presence amongst us ; but sin and Satan cut us out abund 
ance of work as individuals, though, through mercy, as a 
society we walk in peace. 

The " toad and spider " is an exhibition of my daily 
experience. I am often wounded, but the Lord is my 
health. Still I am a living monument of mercy ; and I 
trust that word, " Because I live, you shall live also," will 
carry me to the end. I am poor, weak, and foolish ; but 
Jesus is wise, strong, and abounding in grace. He has given 
me a desire to trust my all in His hands, and He will not 
disappoint the expectation which He Himself has raised. 
At present I have but little to say, and but little time to say 
it in. When you think of this place, I hope you will think 
and believe, that you have friends here most cordially 
interested in your welfare, and often remembering you in 


prayer. May the Lord be your guide and shield, and give 
you the best desires of your heart ! I pray Him to establish 
and settle you in the great truths of His word. I trust He 
will. We learn more, and more effectually, by one minute s 
communication with Him through the medium of His 
wiitten word, than we could from an assembly of divines, or 
a library of books. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, August 17, 1775. 

IT is not owing to forgetfulness that your letter has been 
thus long unanswered. It has lain within my view this 
fortnight, demanding my first leisure hour ; but affairs of 
daily occurrence have been so many and so pressing, that 
I have been constrained to put it off till now. I trust the 
Lord, by His Spirit and providence, will direct and prosper 
the settlement of your children. I desire my love to Miss 

M . My idea of her enlarges. Methinks I see her 

aspiring to be as tall as her mamma. I hope, likewise, that 
she increases in grace and wisdom, as in years and stature ; 
and that hearing our Lord s flock is a little flock, she feels 
an earnest thirst to be one of the happy number which 
constitutes His fold. 

There the Lord dwells amongst them upon His own hill, 
With the flocks all around Him, awaiting His will. 

If she has such a desire, I can tell who gave it her, for I am 
persuaded it was not born with her : and where the good 
Husbandman sows, there will He also reap. Therefore, 

dear Miss M , press forward : knock, and it shall be 

opened unto you, for yet there is room. O what a fold ! 
O what a pasture ! O what a Shepherd ! Let us love, 
and sing, and wonder. 

I hope the good people at Bristol, and everywhere else, 
are praying for our sinful distracted land, in this dark day. 
The Lord is angry, the sword is drawn, and I am afraid 


nothing but the spirit of wrestling prayer can prevail for the 
returning it into the scabbard. Could things have proceeded 
to these extremities except the Lord had withdrawn his 
salutary blessing from both sides ? It is a time of prayer. 
We see the beginning of trouble, but who can foresee the 
possible consequences ? The fire is kindled, but how far 
it may spread, those who are above may, perhaps, know 
better than we. I meddle not with the disputes of party, 
nor concern myself about any political maxims, but such as 
are laid down in Scripture. There I read that righteousness 
exalteth a nation, and that sin is the reproach, and if per 
sisted in, the ruin, of any people. Some people are startled 
af the enormous sum of our national debt : they who under 
stand spiritual arithmetic, may be well startled if they sit 
down and compute the debt of national sin. Imprimis, 
Infidelity : Item, Contempt of the Gospel : Item, The 
profligacy of manners : Item, Perjury : Item, The cry of 
blood, the blood of thousands, perhaps millions, from the 
East Indies. It would take sheets, yea, quires, to draw 
out the particulars under each of these heads, and then much 
would remain untold. What can we answer, when the 
Lord saith, " Shall not I visit for these things ? Shall 
not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this ? " Since 
we received the news of the first hostilities in America, we 
have had an additional prayer-meeting. Could I hear that 
professors in general, instead of wasting their breath in 
censuring men and measures, were plying the throne of grace 
I should still hope for a respite. Poor New England ! once 
the glory of the earth, now likely to be visited with fire 
and sword. They have left their first love, and the Lord 
is sorely contending with them. Yet surely their sins as a 
people are not to be compared with ours. I am just so 
much affected with these things as to know that I am not 
affected enough. Oh ! my spirit is sadly cold and insensible, 
or I should lay them to heart in a different manner : 
yet I endeavour to give the alarm as far as I can. There 
is one political maxim which comforts me, " The Lord 
reigns." His hand guides the storm ; and He knows them 
that are His, how to protect, support, and deliver them. 
He will take care of His own cause, yea, he will extend His 
kingdom, even by these formidable methods. Men have 


one thing in view, He has another ; and His counsel shall 

The chief piece of news since my last is concerning B. A. 
She has finished her course, and is now with the great 
multitude who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, 
and by the word of His testimony. Tuesday, the ist of 
February, she was in our assembly, was taken ill the next 
day, and died while we were assembled the Tuesday following. 
She had an easy dissolution, retained her senses and her 
speech till the last minute, and went without a struggle or 
a sigh. She was not in raptures during her illness, but was 
composed, and maintained a strong and lively faith. She 
had a numerous levee about her bed daily, who were all 
witnesses to the power of faith, and to the faithfulness of 
the Lord, enabling her to triumph over the approaches of 
death ; for she was well known and well respected. She 
will be much missed ; but I hope He will answer the many 
prayers she put up for us, and raise up others in her room. 
" Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Blessed are 
they who know whom they have believed, and when death 
comes, can cheerfully rest their hopes on Him who died that 
we might live. B - had been long a precious and honour 
able woman ; but her hope in the trying hour rested not 
on what she had done for the Lord, but upon what He had 
done for her ; not upon the change His grace had wrought 
in her, but upon the righteousness He had wrought 
out for her by His obedience unto death. This supported 
her, for she saw nothing in herself but what she was ashamed 
of. She saw reason to renounce her own goodness, as well 
as her own sins, as to the point of acceptance with God, 
and died, as St. Paul lived, " determined to know nothing 
but Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 

The time when Mr. and Mrs. C remove to Scotland 

drawing near, Mrs. is gone to spend a week or two 

with them, and take her leave. She feels something at 
parting with a sister, who is indeed a valuable person ; and 
from children with whom they have always lived in the 
most tender intimacy and uninterrupted friendship. But 
all beneath the moon (like the moon itself) is subject to 
incessant change. Alterations and separations are graciously 
appointed of the Lord, to remind us that this is not our rest, 


and to prepare our thoughts for that approaching change 
which shall fix us for ever in an unchangeable state. O, 
Madam ! what shall we poor worms render to Him who 
has brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel, 
taken away the sting of death, revealed a glorious prospect 
beyond the grave, and given us eyes to see it ? Now the 
reflection, that we must ere long take a final farewell of 
what is most capable of pleasing us upon earth, is not only 
tolerable, but pleasant. For we know we cannot fully possess 
our best Friend, our chief Treasure, till we have done with 
all below : nay, we cannot till then properly see each other. 
We are cased up in vehicles of clay, and converse together, 
as if we were in different coaches, with the blinds close 
drawn round. We see the carriage, and the voice tells us 
that we have a Friend within ; but we shall know each 
other better, when death shall open the coach doors, and 
hand out the company successively, and lead them into the 
glorious apartments which the Lord has appointed to be 
the common residence of them that love Him. What an 
assembly will there be ! What a constellation of glory, 
when each individual shall shine like the sun in the kingdom 
of their Father ! No sins, sorrows, temptations ; no veils, 
clouds, or prejudices, shall interrupt us then. All names 
of idle distinction (the fruits of present remaining darkness, 
the channels of bigotry, and the stumbling-block of the 
world) will be at an end. 

The description you give of your present residence pleases 
me much, and chiefly because it describes and manifests to 
me something still more interesting, I mean the peaceable 
situation of your mind. Had He placed you in an Eden 
some months ago it would hardly have awakened your 
descriptive talent. But He whom the winds and seas 
obey has calmed your mind, and I trust will go on to fill 
you with all joy and peace in believing. It is no great 
matter where we are, provided we see that the Lord has 
placed us there, and that He is with us. 

I am, &c. 




So, my dear Madam, I hope we have found you out, 
and that this letter will reach you in good time to welcome 
you in our names to London. We are ready to take it for 
granted, that you will now most certainly make us a visit. 
Do come as soon, and stay as long as you possibly can. 
Methinks you will be glad to get out of the smell and noise 
as soon as possible. If we did not go to London now and 
then, we should perhaps forget how people live there. 
Especially I pity professors ; they are exposed to as many 
dangers as people who live in mines ; chilling damps, 
scorching blasts, epidemical disorders, owing to the impure 
air. Such are the winds of false doctrines, the explosions 
of controversy, the blights of worldly conversation, the 
contagion of evil custom. In short, a person had need 
have a good constitution of grace, and likewise to be well 
supplied with antidotes, to preserve a tolerable share of 
spiritual health in such a situation. 

And now, how shall I fill up the rest of the paper ? It 
is a shame for a Christian and a minister to say he has no 
subject at hand, when the inexhaustible theme of redeeming 
love is ever pressing upon our attention. I will tell you, 
then, though you know it, that the Lord reigns. He who 
once bore our sins, and carried our sorrows, is seated upon 
a throne of glory, and exercises all power in Heaven, and on 
earth. Thrones, principalities, and powers, bow before 
Him. Every event in the kingdoms of providence and of 
grace is under His rule. His providence pervades and 
manages the whole, and is as minutely attentive to every 
part, as if there were only that single object in His view. 
From the tallest archangel to the meanest ant or fly, all 
depend on Him for their being, their preservation, and their 
powers. He directs the sparrows where to build their 
nests, and to find their food. He overrules the rise and fall 
of nations, and bends with an invincible energy and unerring 
wisdom, all events ; so that, while many intend nothing 
less, in the issue their designs all concur and coincide in the 
accomplishment of His holy will. He restrains, with a 
mighty hand the still more formidable efforts of the powers 


of darkness ; and Satan, and all his hosts, cannot exert their 
malice a hair s breadth beyond the limits of His permission. 
This is He who is the Head and Husband of His believing 
people. How happy are they whom it is His good pleasure 
to bless ! How safe are they whom He has engaged to 
protect ! How honoured and privileged are they to whom 
He is pleased to manifest Himself, and whom He enables 
and warrants to claim Him as their friend and their portion ! 
Having redeemed them by His own blood, he sets a high 
value upon them ; He esteems them His treasure, His jewels, 
and keeps them as the apple of His eye. They shall not 
want ; they need not fear ; His eye is upon them in every 
situation, His ear is open to their prayers, and His ever 
lasting arms are under them for their sure support. On 
earth, He guides their steps, controls their enemies, and 
directs all His dispensations for their good ; while in Heaven, 
He is pleading their cause, preparing them a place, and 
communicating down to them reviving foretastes of the 
glory that shall be shortly revealed. O how is this mystery 
hidden from an unbelieving world ! Who can believe, till 
it is made known by experience, what an intercourse is 
maintained in this land of shadows between the Lord of 
glory and sinful worms ? How should we praise Him that 
He has visited us ; for we were once blind to His beauty 
and insensible to His love, and should have remained so to 
the last, had He not prevented us with His goodness, and 
been found of us when we sought Him not. 

Mrs. presents her love The bite of the leech, which 

I mentioned to you, has confined her to the house ever since ; 
but I hope she will be able to go out to-morrow. We were 
for a while apprehensive of worse consequences ; but the 
Lord is gracious ; He shows us, in a variety of instances, 
what dependent creatures we are ; how blind to events, 
and how easily the method which we take to relieve ourselves 
from a small inconvenience may plunge us into a greater. 
Thus we learn (happy, indeed, if we can effectually learn 
it) that there is no safety but in His protection, and that 
nothing can do us good but by His blessing. As for myself, 
I see so many reasons why He might contend with me, that 
I am amazed He affords me and mine so much peace, and 
appoints us so few trials. We live as upon a field of battle ; 


many are hourly suffering and falling around us, and I can 
give no reason why we are preserved, but that He is God, and 
not man. What a mercy that we are only truly known to 
Him who is alone able to bear us ! 

May the Lord bless you and yours ; may He comfort you, 
guide you, and guard you ! Come quickly to 

Yours, &c. 



REV. MR. B- 


REV. AND DEAR SIR, Sept. 14, 1765. 

WHEN I was at London in June last, your name first 
reached me, and from that time I have been desirous to 
wish you success in the name of the Lord. A few weeks 
ago I received a further account from Mrs. - , with a 
volume of your sermons : she likewise gave me a direction 
where to write, and an encouragement that a letter would 
not be unacceptable. The latter, indeed, I did not much 
need when I had read your book. Though we have no 
acquaintance, we are already united in the strictest ties of 
friendship, partakers of the same hope, servants of the same 
Lord, and in the same part of His vineyard : I, therefore, 
hold all apologies needless. I rejoice in the Lord s goodness 
to you ; I pray for His abundant blessing upon your labours ; 
I need an interest in your prayers ; I have an affectionate 
desire to know more concerning you : these are my motives 
for writing. 

Mrs. - - tells me that you have read my Narrative ; 
I need not tell you, therefore, that I am one of the most 
astonishing instances of the forbearance and mercy of God 
upon the face of the earth. In the close of it, I mention a 
warm desire I had to the ministry : this the Lord was pleased 
to keep alive for several years, through a succession of views 
and disappointments. At length His hour came, and my 
way was made easy. I have been here about fifteen months. 
The Lord has led me by a way that I little expected, to a 
pleasant lot, where the Gospel has been many years known, 



and is highly valued by many. We have a large Church 
and congregation, and a considerable number of lively, 
thriving believers ; and in general, go on with great comfort 
and harmony. I meet with less opposition from the world 
than is usual where the Gospel is preached. This burden 
was borne by Mr. B - for ten years, and in that course of 
time, some of the fiercest opposers were removed, some 
wearied, and some softened ; so that we are now remarkably 
quiet in that respect. May the Lord teach us to improve 
the privilege, and preserve us from indifference ! How un 
speakable are our obligations to the grace of God ! What 
a privilege is it to be a believer ! They are comparatively 
few, and we by nature were no nearer than others ; it was 
grace, free grace, that made the difference. What an honour 
to be a minister of the everlasting Gospel ! These upon 
comparison are perhaps fewer still. How wonderful that 
one of these few should be sought for among the wilds of 
Africa, reclaimed from the lowest state of impiety and 
misery, and brought to assure other sinners, from His 
own experience that " there is, there is forgiveness with 
Him, that He may be feared ! " And you, Sir, though 
not left to give such flagrant proofs of the wickedness of the 
heart and the power of Satan, yet owe your present views 
to the same almighty grace. If the Lord had not dis 
tinguished you from your brethren, you would have been 
now in the character of a minister misleading the people, 
and opposing those precious truths you are now labouring 
to establish. Not unto us, O Lord ! but unto Thy name, 
be the glory. I shall be thankful to hear from you at your 
leisure. Be pleased to inform me, whether you received 
the knowledge of the truth before or since you were in orders ; 
how long you have preached the joyful sound of salvation 
by Jesus, and what is the state of things in your parts. 

We are called to an honourable service, but it is arduous. 
What wisdom does it require to keep the middle path in 
doctrines, avoiding the equally dangerous errors on the 
right hand and on the left ! What steadiness, to speak the 
truth boldly and faithfully in the midst of a gainsaying 
world ! What humility, to stand against the tide of 
popularity ! What meekness, to endure all things for the 
elect s sake, that they may be saved ! " Who is sufficient 


for these things ? " We are not in ourselves, but there is 
an all-sufficiency in Jesus. Our enemy watches us close ; 
he challenges and desires to have us, that he may sift us as 
wheat ; he knows he can easily shake us if we are left to 
ourselves; but we have a Shepherd, a Keeper, who never 
slumbers nor sleeps. If He permits us to be exercised, it 
is for our good ; He is at hand to direct, moderate, and 
sanctify every dispensation ; He has prayed for us that our 
faith, may not fail and He has promised to maintain His 
fear in our hearts, that we may not depart from Him. 
When we are prone to wander, He calls us back ; when we 
say, " My feet slip," His mercy holds us up ; when we 
are wounded, He heals ; when we are ready to faint, He 
revives. The people of God are sure to meet with enemies, 
but especially the ministers : Satan bears them a double 
grudge : the world watches for their halting, and the Lord 
will suffer them to be afflicted, that they may be kept 
humble, that they may acquire a sympathy with the 
sufferings of others, that they may be experimentally quali 
fied to advise and help them, and to comfort them with the 
comforts with which they themselves have been comforted 
of God. But the Captain of our salvation is with us ; His 
eye is upon us, His everlasting arm beneath us ; in His 
name, therefore, may we go on, lift up our banners, and say, 
"If God be for us, who can be against us ? Nay, in all 
these things we are more than conquerors, through Him 
that has loved us." The time is short : yet a little while, 
and He will wipe all tears from our eyes, and put a crown 
of life upon our heads with His own gracious hand. In 
this sense, how beautiful are those lines : 

Temporis illius 
Me consoler imagine 
Festis quum populus me reducet choris, 
Faustisque excipiet vocibus, et Dei 
Pompa cum celebri, me comitabitur 
Augusta ad penetralia. 

BUCH, in Ps. 32. 

If any occasions should call you into these parts, my house 
and pulpit will be glad to receive you. Pray for us, dear 
Sir, and believe me to be 

Yours, &c. 



VERY DEAR SIR, Nov. 2, 1765. 

YOUR letter of the 4th ult. gave me great pleasure. 
I thank you for the particular account you have favoured 
me with. I rejoice with you, sympathize with you, and 
find my heart opened to correspond with unreserved freedom. 
May the Lord direct our pens, and help us to help each other 
The work you are engaged in is great, and your difficulties 
many ; but faithful is He that hath called you, who also 
will do it. The weapons which He has now put into your 
hands are not carnal, but mighty through God to the 
pulling down of strongholds. Men may fight, but they 
shall not prevail against us, if we are but enabled to put 
our cause simply into the Lord s hands, and keep steadily 
on in the path of duty. He will plead our cause and fight 
our battles ; He will pardon our mistakes, and teach us to 
do better. My experience as a minister is but small, having 
been but about eighteen months in the vineyard ; but for 
about twelve years I have been favoured with an increasing 
acquaintance among the people of God, of various ranks 
and denominations, which, together with the painful exer 
cises of my own heart, gave me opportunity of making obser 
vations which were of great use to me when I entered upon 
the work myself : and ever since, I have found the Lord 
graciously supplying new lights and new strength as new 
occurrences arise. So I trust it will be with you. I endeavour 
to avail myself of the examples, advice, and sentiments of 
my brethren ; yet at the same time to guard against calling 
any man master. This is the prerogative of Christ. The 
best are but men ; the wisest may be mistaken ; and that 
which may be right in another might be wrong in me, 
through a difference of circumstances. The Spirit of God 
distributes variously, both in gifts and dispensations ; and 
I would no more be tied to act strictly by others rules, 
than to walk in shoes of the same size. My shoes must fit 
my own feet. 

I endeavour to guard against extremes : our nature is 
prone to them ; and we are liable likewise, when we have 
found the inconvenience of one extreme, to revert insensibly 
c. u 


(sometimes to fly suddenly) to the other. I pray to be led 
in the midst of the path. I am what they call a Calvinist ; 
yet there are flights, niceties, and hard sayings, to be found 
among some of that system, which I do not choose to imitate. 
I dislike those sentiments against which you have borne 
your testimony in the note at the end of your preface ; 
but having known many precious souls in that party, I 
have been taught, that the kingdom of God is not in names 
and sentiments, but in righteousness, faith, love, peace, 
and joy in the Holy Ghost. I should, however, upon some 
occasions, oppose those tenets, if they had any prevalence 
in my neighbourhood ; but they have not ; and in general, 
I believe, the surest way to refute or prevent error is to 
preach the truth. I am glad to find you are aware of that 
spirit of enthusiasm which has so often broken loose and 
blemished hopeful beginnings, and that the foundation you 
build upon is solid and Scriptural : this will, I hope, save you 
much trouble, and prevent many offences. Let us endeavour 
to make our people acquainted with the Scripture, and to 
impress them with a high sense of its authority, excellence, 
and sufficiency. Satan seldom remarkably imposes on 
ministers or people, except where the Word of God is too 
little consulted or regarded. Another point in which I aim 
at a medium, is in what is called prudence. There is cer 
tainly such a thing as Christian prudence, and a remarkable 
deficiency of it is highly inconvenient. But caution too often 
degenerates into cowardice ; and if the fear of man, under 
the name of prudence, gets within our guard, like a chilling 
frost it nips everything in the bud. Those who trust the 
Lord, and act openly, with an honest freedom and consistence, 
I observe He generally bears out, smooths their way, and 
makes their enemies their friends, or at least restrains 
their rage ; while such as halve things, temporize, and aim 
to please God and men together, meet with double dis 
appointment, and are neither useful nor respected. If we trust 
to Him, He will stand by us ; if we regard men, He will 
leave us to make the best we can of them. 

I have set down hastily what occurred to my pen, not 
to dictate to you, but to tell you how I have been led, and 
because some expressions in your letter seemed to imply 
that you would not be displeased with me for so doing. As 


to books, I think there is a medium here likewise. I have 
read too much in time past ; yet I do not wholly join with 
some of our brethren, who would restrain us entirely to the 
Word of God. Undoubtedly this is the fountain ; here we 
should dwell : but a moderate and judicious perusal of 
other authors may have its use ; and I am glad to be 
beholden to such helps, either to explain what I do not 
understand, or to confirm me in what I do. Of these, the 
writings of the last age afford an immense variety. 

But, above all, may we, dear Sir, live and feed upon the 
precious promises, John xiv. 16, 17, 26 ; and xvi. 13 15. 
There is no teacher like Jesus, who, by His Holy Spirit, 
reveals Himself in His word to the understanding and affec 
tions of His children. When we thus behold His glory in 
the Gospel glass, we are changed into the same image. Then 
our hearts melt, our eyes flow, our stammering tongues are 
unloosed. That this may be your increasing experience 
is the prayer of, dear Sir, 

Yours, &c. 


DEAR SIR, Jan. 21, 1766. 

YOUR letters gave me the sincerest pleasure. Let us 
believe that we are daily thinking of and praying for each 
other, and write when opportunity offers, without apologies. 
I praise the Lord, that He has led so soon to a settled 
judgment in the leading truths of the Gospel. For want of 
this, many have been necessitated, with their own hands, 
to pull down what, in the first warm emotions of their zeal, 
they had laboured hard to build. It is a mercy likewise, 
to be enabled to acknowledge what is excellent in the writings 
or conduct of others, without adopting their singularities, 
or discarding the whole on account of a few blemishes. We 
should be glad to receive instruction from all, and avoid 
being led by the ipse dixit of any. Nullus jurare in verbum, 
is a fit motto for those who have one Master, even Christ. 
We may grow wise apace in opinions, by books and men ; 

u 2 


but vital experimental knowledge can only be received from 
the Holy Spirit, the great Instructor and Comforter of His 
people. And there are two things observable in His 
teaching : i. That He honours the means of His own 
appointment, so that we cannot expect to make any great 
progress without diligence on our parts : 2. That He does not 
teach all at once, but by degrees. Experience is His school ; 
and by this I mean the observation and improvement of 
what, passeth between us and around us in the course of 
every day. The Word of God affords a history in miniature 
of the heart of man, the devices of Satan, the state of the 
world, and the method of grace. And the most instructing 
and affecting commentary on it, to an enlightened mind 
may be gathered from what we see, feel, and hear, from day 
to day. Res, cetas, usus semper aliquid apportent novi; and no 
knowledge in spiritual things but what we acquire in this 
way is properly our own, or will abide the time of trial. 
This is not always sufficiently considered : we are ready to 
expect that others should receive upon our word, in half an 
hour s time, those views of things which have cost us years 
to attain. But none can be brought forward faster than 
the Lord is pleased to communicate inward light. Upon 
this ground, controversies have been multiplied among 
Christians to little purpose ; for plants of different standings 
will be (cateris paribus) in different degrees of forwardness. 
A young Christian is like a green fruit : it has perhaps a 
disagreeable austerity, which cannot be corrected out of its 
proper course ; it wants time and growth ; wait a while, 
and by the nourishment it receives from the root, together 
with the action of the sun, wind, and rain, in succession from 
without, it will insensibly acquire that flavour and maturity, 
for the want of which an unskilful judge would be ready 
to reject it as nothing worth. We are favoured with many 
excellent books in our tongue, but I with you agree in 
assigning one of the first places (as a teacher) to Dr. Owen. 
I have just finished his discourse on the Holy Spirit, which 
is an epitome, if not the masterpiece, of his writings. I 
should be glad to see the republication you speak of ; but 
I question if the booksellers will venture upon it. I shall 
perhaps mention it to my London friends. As to Archbishop 
Leighton, besides his select works, there are two octavo 


volumes published at Edinburgh, in the year 1748, and since 
reprinted at London. They contain a valuable commentary 
on St. Peter s First Epistle, and lectures on Isa. vi. Psal. xxxix. 
cxxx. iv. and a part of Rom. xii. I have likewise a small 
quarto in Latin of his Divinity Lectures, when Professor at 
Edinburgh : the short title is Prcelectiones Theologies. 
Mine was printed in London, 1698. I believe this book is 
scarce ; I set the highest value upon it. He has wonder- 
full} united the simplicity of the Gospel with all the captivat 
ing beauties of style and language. Bishop Burnet says, 
he was the greatest master of the Latin tongue he ever knew, 
of which together with his compass of learning he has given 
proof in his Lectures ; yet in his gayer dress, his eminent 
humility and spirituality appear to no less advantage than 
when clad in plain English. I think it may be said to be a 
diamond set in gold. I could wish it translated, if it was 
possible (which I almost question) to preserve the beauty 
and spirit of the original. 

Edwards on Free-will I have read with pleasure, as a good 
answer to the proud reasoners in their own way ; but a book 
of that sort cannot be generally read where the subject- 
mn+ is unpleusmg, and the method of treating it requires 
more attention than the Athenian spirit of the times will 
bear. I wonder not if it is uncalled for; and am afraid we 
shall not see him upon Original Sin, if it depends upon the 
sale of the other. This answer to Dr. Taylor, which you 
speak of, is not a MS., but has been already printed at 

You send us good news, indeed, that two more of your 
brethren are declaring on the Gospel side. The Lord confirm 
and strengthen them, and yet to your numbers, and make you 
helps and comforts to each other ! Surely He is about to 
spread His work. Happy those whom He honours to be 
fellow- workers with Him. Let us account the disgrace we 
suffer for His name s sake to be our great honour. Many will 
be against us ; but there are more for us. All the praying 
souls on earth, all the glorified saints in heaven, all the angels 
of God, yea, the God of angels Himself, are all on our side. 
Satan may rage, but he is a chained enemy. Men may 
contradict and fight, but they cannot prevail. Two things 
we shall especially need, courage and patience, that we 


neither faint before them, nor upon any provocation act 
in their spirit. If we can pity and pray for them, return 
good for evil, make them sensible that we bear them a hearty 
good-will, and act as the disciples of Him who wept for His 
enemies, and prayed for His murderers ; in this way we shall 
find the Lord will plead our cause, soften opposers, and by 
degrees give us a measure of outward peace. Warmth and 
imprudence have often added to the necessary burden of 
the ross. I rejoice that the Lord has led you in a different 
way ; and I hope your doctrine and example will make your 
path smoother every day ; you find it so in part already. As 
the Lord brings you out a people, witnesses for you to the truth 
of His word, you will find advantage in bringing them often 
together. The interval from Sabbath to Sabbath is a good 
while, and affords time for the world and Satan to creep 
in. Intermediate meetings for prayer, &c., when properly 
conducted, are greatly useful. I could wish for larger 
sheets and longer leisure ; but I am constrained to say 
adieu, in our dear Lord and Saviour, 

Yours, &c. 


DEAR SIR, Dec. 12, 1767. 

THIS is not intended as an answer to your last acceptable 
letter, but an occasional line in consequence of the account 
Mr. T - has given me of your late illness. I trust this 
dispensation will be useful to you ; and I wish the knowledge 
of it may be so to me. I am favoured with an unusual 
share of health, and an equal flow of spirits If the blow 
you have received should be a warning to me, I shall have 
cause to be thankful. I am glad to hear you are better ; 
I hope the Lord has no design to disable you from service, 
but rather (as He did Jacob) to strengthen you by wounding 
you ; to maintain and increase in you that conviction which, 
through grace, you have received of the vanity and uncer 
tainty of everything below ; to give you a lively sense of 
the value of health and opportunities, and to add to the 


treasury of your experience new proofs of His power and 
goodness, in supporting, comforting, and healing you ; and 
likewise to quicken the prayers of your people for you, and 
to stir them up to use double diligence in the present improve 
ment of the means of grace, while by this late instance they 
see how soon and suddenly you might have been removed 
from them. 

I understand you did not feel that lively exercise of faith 
and joy which you would have hoped to have found at such 
a season : but let not this discourage you from a firm 
confidence, that when the hour of dismission shall come, 
the Lord will be faithful to His gracious promise, and give 
you strength sufficient to encounter and vanquish your last 
enemy. You had not this strength lately because you needed 
it not : for though you might think yourself near to death, 
the Lord intended to restore you ; and He permitted you 
to feel weakness, that you might know your strength does 
not consist in grace received, but in His fulness, and His 
promise to communicate from Himself as your occasions 
require. O it is a great thing to be strong in the grace that 
is in Christ Jesus ! but it is a hard lesson ; it is not easy 
to understand it in theory ; but when the Lord has taught 
us so far, it is still more difficult to reduce our knowledge 
to practice. But this is one end He has in view, permitting 
us to pass through such a variety of inward and outward 
exercises, that we may cease from trusting in ourselves, or 
in any creature, or frame, or experiences, and be brought 
to a state of submission and dependence upon Him alone. 
I was once visited somewhat in the same way, seized with a 
nt of the apoplectic kind, which held me nearly an hour 
and left a disorder in my head, w r hich quite bmke the scheme 
of life I was then in, and was consequently one of the 
means the Lord appointed to bring me into the ministry ; 
but I soon perfectly recovered. From the remembrance 
Mrs. - - has of what she then suffered, she knows how to 
sympathize with Mrs. B - in her share of your trial. 
And I think dear Mr. - - some years since had a sudden 
stroke on a Christmas day, which disabled him from duty 
for a time. To him and to me these turns were only like 
the caution which Philip of Macedon ordered to be repeated 
to him every morning, " Remember thou art a man." 


I hope it will be no more to you, but that you shall live to 
praise Him, and to give many cause to praise Him on your 
behalf. Blessed be God, we are in safe hands ; the Lord 
Himself is our keeper ; nothing befals us but what is adjusted 
by His wisdom and love. Health is His gift ; and sickness, 
when sanctified, is a token of love likewise. Here we may 
meet with many things which are not joyous, but grievous 
to the flesh ; but He will, in one way or other, sweeten every 
bitter cup, and ere long He will wipe away all tears from 
our eyes. O that joy, that crown, that glory which awaits 
the believer ! Let us keep the prize of our high calling in 
view, and press forward in the name of Jesus the Redeemer, 
and He wifl not disappoint our hopes. 

I am but just come oft from a journey, am weary, and it 
grows late ; must therefore break off. When you have 
leisure and strength to write, oblige me with a confirmation 
of your recovery, for I shall be somewhat anxious about 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, March 14, 1775. 

I THOUGHT you long in writing, but am afraid I have 
been longer. A heavy family affliction called me from 
home in December, which put me out of my usual course, 
and threw me behind-hand in my correspondence ; yet I 
did not suspect the date of your last letter was so old by two 
months as I find it. Whether I write more frequently, or 
more seldom, the love of my heart to you is the same, and I 
shall believe the like of you ; yet, if it can be helped, I hope 
the interval will not be so long again on either side. I am 
glad that the Lord s work still flourishes in your parts, and 
that you have a more comfortable prospect at home than 
formerly ; and I was pleased with the acceptance you 
found at S - ; which I hope will be an earnest of greater 
things. I think affairs in general, with respect to this land, 
have a dark appearance ; but it is comfortable to observe, 


that amidst the aboundings of iniquity, the Lord is spreading 
His Gospel ; and that, though many oppose, yet in most 
places whither the word is sent, great numbers seem disposed 
to hear. I am going (if the Lord please) into Leicestershire 
on Friday. This was lately such a dark place as you describe 
your country to be, and much of it is so still ; but the Lord 
has visited three of the principal towns with Gospel-light. 
I have a desire of visiting these brethren in the vineyard, 
to bear my poor testimony to the truths they preach, and 
to catch, if I may, a little fire and fervour among them. I 
do not often go abroad ; but I have found a little excursion 
now and then (when the way is made plain) has its advan 
tages, to quicken the spirits, and enlarge the sphere of obser 
vation. On these accounts, the recollection of my N 
journey gives me pleasure to this day ; and very glad should 
I be to repeat it ; but the distance is so great, that I consider 
it rather as desirable than practicable. 

My experiences vary as well as yours : but possibly your 
sensations, both of the sweet and of the bitter, may be 
stronger than mine. The enemy assaults me more by sap 
than storm ! and I am ready to think I suffer more by 
languor than some of my friends do by the sharper conflicts 
to which they are called. So likewise in these seasons, 
which comparatively I call my best hours, my sensible 
comforts are far from lively. But I am in general enabled 
to hold fast my confidence, and to venture myself upon the 
power, faithfulness, and compassion of that adorable Saviour 
to whom my soul has been directed and encouraged to flee 
for refuge. I am a poor, changeable, inconsistent creature ; 
but He deals graciously with me ; He does not leave me 
wholly to myself ; but I have such daily proofs of the 
malignity of the sin that dwelleth in me, as ought to cover 
me with shame and confusion of face, and make me thankful 
if I am permitted to rank with the meanest of those who sit 
at His feet. That I was ever called to the knowledge of His 
salvation, was a singular instance of His sovereign grace ; 
and that I am still preserved in the way in defiance of all 
that has arisen from within and from without to turn me 
aside, must be wholly ascribed to the same sovereignty ; 
and if, as I trust, He shall be pleased to make me a conqueror 
at last, I shall have peculiar reason to say, "Not unto me, 


not unto me, but unto Thy name, O Lord, be the glory and 
the praise ! " 

How oft have sin and Satan strove 
To rend my soul from Thee, my God ! 

But everlasting is Thy love, 
And Jesus seals it with His blood. 

The Lord leads me in the course of my preaching to insist 
much on a life of communion with Himself, and of the great 
design of the Gospel to render us conformable to Him in 
love ; and as by His mercy nothing appears in my outward 
conduct remarkably to contradict what I say, many who 
only can judge by what they see, suppose I live a very happy 
life. But, alas ! if they knew what passes in my heart, how 
dull my spirit is in secret, and how little I am myself affected 
by the glorious truths I propose to others, they would form 
a different judgment. Could I be myself what I recommend 
to them, I should be happy indeed. Pray for me, my dear 
friend, that now the Lord is bringing forward the pleasing 
spring, He may favour me with a spring season in my soul ; 
for indeed I mourn under a long winter. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, April 16, 1772. 

I HOPE the Lord has contracted my desires and aims 
almost to the one point of study, the knowledge of His 
truth. All other acquisitions are transient, and compara 
tively vain. And yet, alas ! I am a slow scholar ; nor can 
I see in what respect I get forward, unless that every day 
I am more confirmed in the conviction of my own emptiness 
and inability to all spiritual good. And as notwithstanding 
this, I am still enabled to stand my ground, I would hope, 
since no effect can be without an adequate cause, that I 
have made some advance, though in a manner imperceptible 
to myself, towards a more simple dependence upon Jesus as 
my all in all. It is given me to thirst and to taste, if it is not 
given me to drink abundantly ; and I would be thankful for 


the desire. I see and approve the wisdom, grace, suit 
ableness, and sufficiency of the Gospel-salvation ; and 
since it is for sinners, and I am a sinner, and the promises 
are open, I do not hesitate to call it mine. I am a weary, 
laden soul ; Jesus has invited me to come, and has enabled 
me to put my trust in Him. I seldom have an uneasy doubt, 
at least not of any continuance, respecting my pardon, 
acceptance, and interest in all the blessings of the New 
Testament. And, amidst a thousand infirmities and evils 
under which I groan, I have the testimony of my conscience 
when under the trial of His word, that my desire is sincerely 
towards Him, that I choose no other portion, that I allowedly 
serve no other master. When I told our friend - - lately 
to this purpose, he wondered, and asked, " How is it possible 
that, if you can say these things, you should not be always 
rejoicing ? " Undoubtedly I derive from the Gospel a peace 
at bottom which is worth more than a thousand worlds : 
but so it is, I can only speak for myself though I rest and 
live upon the truths of the Gospel, they seldom impress me 
with a warm and lively joy. In public, indeed, I sometimes 
seem in earnest, and much affected ; but even then it appears 
to me rather as a part of the gift intrusted to me for the 
edification of others, than as a sensation which is properly 
my own. For when I am in private, I am usually dull and 
stupid to a strange degree, or the prey to a wild and ungov- 
erned imagination ; so that I may truly say, when I would 
do good, evil, horrid evil, is present with me. Ah, how 
different is this from sensible comfort ! and if I were to 
compare myself to others, to make their experience my 
standard, and were not helped to retreat to the sure Word of 
God as my refuge, how hard should I find it to maintain a 
hope, that I had either part or lot in the matter ! \Vhat I 
call my good times are, when I can find my attention in 
some little measure fixed to what I am about, which indeed 
is not always nor frequently my case in prayer, and still 
seldomer in reading the Scripture. My judgment embraces 
these means as blessed privileges, and Satan has not prevailed 
to drive me from them ; but in the performance, I too often 
find them tasks, feel a reluctance when the seasons return, 
and am glad when they are finished. O what a mystery 
is the heart of man ! What a warfare is the life of faith (at 


least in the path the Lord is pleased to lead me) ! What 
reason have I to lie in the dust as the chief of sinners ! and 
what cause for thankfulness that salvation is wholly of grace ! 
Notwithstanding all my complaints, it is still tnie that Jesus 
died and rose again, that He ever liveth to make intercession, 
and is able to save to the uttermost. But, on the other 
hand, to think of that joy of heart in which some of His 
people live, and to compare it with that apparent deadness 
and want of spirituality which I feel, this makes me mourn. 
Ho\wver, I think there is a Scriptural distinction between 
faith and feeling, grace and comfort ; they are not insepar 
able, and perhaps when together, the degree of the one is not 
often the just measure of the other. But though I pray that 
I may be ever longing and panting for the light of His 
countenance, yet I would be so far satisfied, as to believe 
the Lord has \vise and merciful reasons for keeping me so 
short of the comforts which He has taught me to desire and 
value more than the light of the sun. 

I am, &c. 





DEAR SIR, Jan. 16, 1772. 

IT is true, I was apprehensive, from your silence, that 
I had offended you ; but when your letter came, it made 
me full amends ; and now I am glad I wrote as I did, though 
I am persuaded I shall never write to you again in the same 
strain. I am pleased with the spirit you discover ; and your 
bearing so well to be told of the mistakes I pointed out to 
you, endears you more to me than if you had not made them. 
Henceforward I can converse freely with you, and shall be 
glad when I have the opportunity. 

As to your view of justification, I did not oppose it ; 
I judge for myself, and I am willing others should have the 
same liberty, If we hold the head, and love the Lord, we 
agree in Him ; and I should think my time ill employed in 
disputing the point with you. I only meant to except 
against the positive manner in which you had expressed 
yourself. My end is answered, and I am satisfied. Indeed, 
I believe the difference between a judicious Supra-lapsarian, 
and a sound Sub-la psarian, lies more in a different way of 
expressing their sentiments than is generally thought. 
At the close of Halyburton s Insufficiency of Natural 
Religion, he has an Inquiry into the Nature of Regeneration 
and Justification, wherein he proposes a scheme, in which, 
if I mistake not, the moderate of both parties might safely 
unite. I have used the epithets judicious and sound, 
because, as I acknowledge some of the one side are not 
quite sound, so I think some on the other side are not so 


judicious as I could wish ; that is, I think they do not 
sufficiently advert to the present state of human nature, 
and the danger which may arise from leading those who are 
weak in faith and judgment, into inquiries and distinctions 
evidently beyond the line of their experience, and which 
may be hurtful ; because, admitting them to be true 
when properly explained, they are very liable to be mis 
understood. To say nothing of Mr. Hussey (in whose 
provisions I have frequently found more bones than meat, 
and the whole seasoned with much of an angry and self- 
important spirit), I have observed passages in other writers, 
for whom I have a higher esteem, which, to say the least, 
appear to me paradoxical, and hard to be understood ; 
though perhaps I can give my consent to them, if I had such 
restrictions and limitations as the authors would not refuse. 
But plain people are easily puzzled. And though I know 
several in the Supra-lapsarian scheme, at whose feet I am 
willing to sit and learn, and have found their preaching and 
conversation savoury and edifying, yet I must say I have 
met with many who have appeared to be rather wise than 
warm, rather positive than humble, rather captious than 
lively, and more disposed to talk of speculations than 
experience. However, let us give ourselves to the study 
of the Word and to prayer ; and may the great Teacher 
make every Scriptural truth food to our souls. I desire 
to grow in knowledge, but I want nothing which bears that 
name, that has not a direct tendency to make sin more 
hateful, Jesus more precious to my soul, and at the same 
time to animate me to a diligent use of every appointed 
means, and an unreserved regard to every branch of duty. 
I think the Lord has shown me in a measure, there is a 
consistent sense running through the whole Scripture, and 
I desire to be governed and influenced by it all : doctrines, 
precepts, promises, warnings, all have their proper place 
and use ; and I think many of the inconveniences which 
obtain in the present day, spring from separating those 
things which God hath joined together, and insisting on 
some pzj-ts of the word of God, almost to the exclusion of 
the rest. 

I have fried my paper with what I did not intend to say 
a word of \vh\r\ I began, and I must leave other tlu ngs which 


were more upon my mind for another season. I thank you 
for saying you pray for me. Continue that kindness ; I 
both need it and prize it. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, July 31, 1773. 

I RECEIVED your sorrowing epistle yesterday, and, in 
order to encourage you to write, I answer it to-day. 

The ship was safe when Christ was in her, though He was 
really asleep. At present I can tell you good news, though 
you know it ; He is wide awake, and His eyes are in every 
place. You and I, if we could be pounded together, might 
perhaps make two tolerable ones. You are too anxious, 
and I am too easy in some respects. Indeed I cannot be too 
easy, when I have a right thought that all is safe in His 
hands ; but if your anxiety makes you pray, and my com 
posure makes me careless, you have certainly the best of it. 
However, the ark is fixed upon an immovable foundation ; 
and if we think we see it totter, it is owing to a swimming 
in our heads. Seriously, the times look dark and stormy, 
and call for much circumspection and prayer ; but let us 
not forget that we have an infallible Pilot, and that the 
power, and wisdom, and honour of God are embarked with 
us. At Venice they have a fine vessel called the Bucentaur, 
in which, on a certain day of the year, the doge and nobles 
embark, and go a little way to sea, to repeat the foolish 
ceremony of marriage between the Republic and the Adriatic 
(in consequence of some flying, antiquated Pope s bull, by 
which the banns of matrimony between Venice and the 
Gulf were published in the dark ages), when, they say, a 
gold ring is very gravely thrown overboard. Upon this 
occasion, I have been told, when the honour and govern 
ment of Venice are shipped on board the Bucentaur, the pilot 
is obliged by his office to take an oath that he will bring the 
vessel safely back again in defiance of wind and weather. 
Vain mortals I If this be true, what an instance of God s 


long-suffering is it, that they have never yet sunk as lead in 
the mighty waters ! But my story will probably remind 
you, that Jesus has actually entered into such an engagement 
in behalf of His Church. And well He may, for both wind 
and weather are at His command ; and He can turn the 
storm into a calm in a moment. We may, therefore, safely 
and confidently leave the government upon His shoulders. 
Duty is our part, the care is His. 

A revival is wanted with us as well as with you, and I 
trust some of us are longing for it. We are praying and 
singing for one ; and I send you, on the other side, a hymn 
that you (if you like it) may sing with us. Let us take 
courage ; though it may seem marvellous in our eyes, 
it is not so in the Lord s. He changed the desert into a 
fruitful field, and bade dry bones live. And if we prepare 
our hearts to pray, he will surely incline His ear to hear. 

The miscarriages of professors are grievous ; yet such 
things must be ; how else could the Scriptures be fulfilled ? 
But there is One who is able to keep us from falling. Some 
who have distressed us, perhaps never were truly changed ; 
how then could they stand ? We see only the outside. 
Others who are sincere are permitted to fall for our instruc 
tion, that we may not be high-minded, but fear. However, 
he that walketh humbly, walketh surely. 

Believe me, &c. 

DEAR SIR, Feb. 22, 1774. 

YOUR letter by last post surprised and grieved me. 
We knew nothing of the subject, though Mrs. - remembers 
when W - was here, a hint or two were dropped which 
she did not understand ; but no name was mentioned. 

This instance shows the danger of leaning to impressions. 
Texts of Scripture, brought powerfully to the heart, are 
very desirable and pleasant, if their tendency is to humble 
us, to give us a more feeling sense of the preciousness of 
Christ, or of the doctrines of grace ; if they make sin more 
hateful, enliven our reeard to the means, or increase our 


confidence in the power and faithfulness of God. But if 
they are understood as intimating our path of duty in par 
ticular circumstances, or confirming us in purposes we may 
have already formed, not otherwise clearly warranted by 
the general strain of the Word, or by the leadings of Provi 
dence, they are for the most part ensnaring, and always to 
be suspected. Nor does their coming into the mind at the 
time of prayer give them more authority in this respect. 
When the mind is intent upon any subject, the imagination 
is often watchful to catch at anything which may seem to 
countenance the favourite pursuit. It is too common to 
ask counsel of the Lord when we have already secretly 
determined for ourselves ; and in this disposition we 
may easily be deceived by the sound of a text of Scripture, 
which, detached from the passage in which it stands, may 
seem remarkably to tally with our wishes. Many have been 
deceived in this way ; and sometimes, when the event has 
shown them they were mistaken, it has opened a door for 
great distress, and Satan has found occasion to make them 
doubt even of their most solid experiences. 

I have sometimes talked to - - upon this subject, 
though without the least suspicion of anything like what 
has happened. As to the present case, it may remind 
us all of our weakness. I would recommend prayer, patience, 
much tenderness towards her, joined with faithful expostula 
tion. Wait a little while, and I trust the Lord who loves 
her will break the snare. I am persuaded, in her better 
judgment, she would dread the thoughts of doing wrong; 
and I hope and believe the good Shepherd, to whom she 
has often committed her soul and her ways, will interpose 
to restore and set her to rights. ***** 


* * I am sorry you think any of whom you have 
hoped well are going back ; but be not discouraged. I say 
again, pray and wait, and hope the best. It is common for 
young professors to have a slack time ; it is almost necessary, 
that they may be more sensible of the weakness and deceit- 
fulness of their hearts, and be more humbled in future 
when the Lord shall have healed their breaches, and restored 
their souls. We join love to you and yours. Pray for us, 

I am, &c. 
c. x 



DEAR SIR, Feb. 3, 1775. 

Tr would be wrong to make you wait long for an answer 
to the point you propose in your last. It is an important 
one. I am not a casuist by profession, but I will do my 
best. Suppose I imitate your laconic manner of stating the 
question and circumstances. 

I doubt not but it is very lawful at your age to think of 
marriage, and, in the situation you describe, to think of 
money likewise. I am glad you have no persons, as you 
say, fixedly in view ; in that case, advice comes a post or 
two too late. But your expression seems to intimate, that 
there is one transiently in view. If so, since you have no 
settlement, if she has no money, I cannot but wish she may 
pass on till she is out of sight and out of mind. I see this 
will not do ; I must get into my own grave way about this 
grave business. I take it for granted, that my friend is free 
from the love of filthy lucre ; and that money will never be 
the turning point with you in the choice of a wife. Methinks 
I hear you say, if I wanted money, I would either dig or 
beg for it ; but to preach or marry for money, that be far 
from me. I commend you. However, though the love of 
money be a great evil, money itself, obtained in a fair and 
honourable way, is desirable upon many accounts, though 
not for its own sake. Meat, clothes, fire and books, cannot 
easily be had without it ; therefore, if these be necessary, 
mono} , which procures them, must be a necessary likewise. 
If things were otherwise than you represent them, if you 
were able to provide for a wife yourself, then I would say, 
Find a gracious girl (if she be not found already), whose 
person you like, whose temper you think will suit ; and then, 
with your father and mother s consent (without which I 
think you would be unwilling to move), thank the Lord for 
her, marry her, and account her a valuable portion, though 
she should not have a shilling. But while you are without 
income or settlement, if you have thoughts of marriage, I 
hope they will be regulated by a due regard to consequences. 
They who set the least value upon money, have in some 
respects the most need of it. A generous mind will feel a 


thousand pangs in strait circumstances, which some unfeeling 
hearts would not be sensible of. You could perhaps endure 
hardships alone, yet it might pinch you to the very bone to 
see the person you love exposed to them. Besides, you 
might have a John, a Thomas, and a William, and a half 
dozen more to feed (for they must all eat) ; and how this 
could be done without a competency on one side or the 
other, or so much on both sides as will make a competency 
when united, I see not. Besides, you would be grieved not 
to find an occasional shilling in your pocket to bestow upon 
one or other of the Lord s poor, though you should be able 
to make some sort of a shift for those of your own house. 

But is it not written, " The Lord will provide " ? It is : 
but it is written again, " Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy 
God." Hastily to plunge ourselves into difficulties upon a 
persuasion that He will find some way to extricate us, seems 
to me a species of tempting Him. 

Therefore, I judge it so far lawful for you to have a regard 
to money in looking out for a wife, that it would be wrong, 
that is, in other words, unlawful for you to omit it, supposing 
you have a purpose of marrying in your present situation. 

Many serious young women have a predilection in favour 
of a minister of the Gospel : and I believe among such, one 
or more may be found as spiritual, as amiable, as suitable 
to make you a good wife, with a tolerable fortune to boot, 
as another who has not a penny. If you are not willing to 
trust your own judgment in the search, intreat the Lord to 
find her for you. He chose well for Isaac and Jacob ; 
and you, as a believer, have warrant to commit your way 
to Him, and many more express promises than they had for 
your encouragement. He knows your state, your wants, 
what you are at present, and what use He designs to make 
of you. Trust in Him, and wait for Him : prayer, and faith, 
and patience, are never disappointed. I commend you to 
His blessing and guidance. Remember us to all in your 

I am, &c. 




DEAR SIR, May 28, 1775. 


* * * You must not expect a long 
letter this morning ; we are just going to Court, in hopes 
of seeing the King, for He has promised to meet us. We 
can say He is mindful of his promise ; and yet it is not 
strange that though we are all in the same place, and the 
King in the midst of us, it is but here and there one (even of 
those who love Him) can see Him at once ! However, in our 
turns, we are all favoured with a glimpse of Him, and have 
had cause to say, How great is His goodness ! How great 
is His beauty ! We have the advantage of the Queen of 
Sheba, a more glorious object to behold, and not so far to 
go for the sight of it. If a transient glance exceed all that 
the world can afford for a long continuance, what must it be 
to dwell with Him ! If a day in His courts be better than 
a thousand, what will eternity be in His presence ! I hope 
the more you see, the more you love ; the more you drink, 
the more you thirst ; the more you do for Him, the more 
you are ashamed you can do so little ; and that the nearer 
you approach to your journey s end, the more your pace is 
quickened. Surely, the power of spiritual attraction should 
increase as the distance lessens. O that heavenly load-stone ! 
May it so draw us, that we may not creep, but run. In 
common travelling, the strongest become weary if the 
journey be very long ; but in the spiritual journey we are 
encouraged with the hope of going on from strength to 
strength ; instaurabit iter vires, as Johnson expresses it. 
No road but the road to Heaven can thus communicate 
refreshment to those who walk in it, and make them more 
fresh and lively when they are just finishing their courses 
than when they first set out. 

I am, &c. 



DEAR SIR, April 18, 1776. 

ARE you sick, or lame of your right hand, or are you 
busy in preparing a folio for the press, that I hear nothing 
from you ? You see, by the excuses I would contrive, I am 
not willing to suppose you have forgotten me, but that 
your silence is rather owing to a cannot than a will not. 

I hope your soul prospers. I do not ask you, if you are 
always filled with sensible comfort ; but, do you find your 
spirit more bowed down to the feet and will of Jesus, so as 
to be willing to serve Him for the sake of serving Him, and 
to follow Him, as we say, through thick and thin, to be 
willing to be anything or nothing, so that He may be glorified. 
I could give you plenty of good advice upon this head ; 
but I am ashamed to do it, because I so poorly follow 
myself. I want to live with Him by the day, to do all for 
Him, to receive all from Him, to possess all in Him, to live 
all to Him, to make Him my hiding-place and my resting- 
place. I want to deliver up that rebel Self to him in chains ; 
but the rogue, like Proteus, puts on so many forms, that 
he slips through my fingers : but I think I know what I would 
do if I could fairly catch him. 

My soul is like a besieged city : a legion of enemies without 
the gates, and a nest of restless traitors within, that hold a 
correspondence with them without ; so that I am deceived 
and counteracted continually. It is a mercy that I have 
not been surprised and overwhelmed long ago : without help 
from on high, it would soon be over with me. How often 
have I been forced to cry out, O God, the heathen are got 
into thine inheritance ; thy holy temple have they defiled, 
and defaced all thy work ! Indeed, it is a miracle that I 
still hold out. I trust, however, I shall be supported to the 
end, and that the Lord will at length raise the siege, and cause 
me to shout deliverance and victory. 

Pray for me, that my walls may be strengthened, and 
wounds healed. We are all pretty well as to the outward 
man, and join in love to all friends. 

I am, &c. 



DEAR SIR, July 6, 1776. 

I WAS abroad when your letter came, but employ the 
first post to thank you for your confidence. My prayers 
(when I can pray) you may be sure of ; as to advice, I see 
not that the case requires much. Only be a quiet child, 
and lie patiently at the Lord s feet. He is the best Friend 
and Manager in these matters, for He has a key to open every 
heart ********** 
********! should not have 
taken Mr. Z - s letter for a denial, as it seems you did. 
Considering the years of the parties, and other circumstances, 
a prudent parent could hardly say more, if he were inclined 
to favour your views. To me you seem to be in a tolerable 
fair way ; but I know, in affairs of this kind, Mr. Self does 
not like suspense, but would willingly come to the point at 
once : but Mr. Faith (when he gets liberty to hold up his 
head) will own that, in order to make our temporal mercies 
wear well, and to give us a clearer sense of the hand that 
bestows them, a waiting and a praying time are very season 
able. Worldly people expect their schemes to run upon all- 
fours, as we say, and the objects of their wishes to drop 
into their mouths without difficulty ; and if they succeed, 
they of course burn incense to their own drag, and say, 
This was my doing : but believers meet with rubs and 
disappointments, which convince them, that if they obtain 
any thing, it is the Lord who must do it for them. For 
this reason I observe that He usually brings a death upon 
our prospects, even when it is His purpose to give us success 
in the issue. Thus we become more assured that we did not 
act in our own spirits, and have a more satisfactory view that 
His providence has been concerned in filling up the rivers 
and removing the mountains that were in our way. Then 
when He has given us our desire, how pleasant is it to look 
at it, and say, This I got not by my own sword, and my own 
bow, but I wrestled for it in prayer, I waited for it in 
faith, I put it into the Lord s hand, and from His hand I 
received it ! 

YOU have met with the story of one of our kings (if I 


mistake not) who wanted to send a nobleman abroad as 
his ambassador, and he desired to be excused on account 
of some affairs which required his presence at home : the 
king answered, " Do you take care of my business, and I 
will take care of yours." I would have you think the Lord 
says thus to you. You were sent into the world for a nobler 
end than to be pinned to a girl s apron-string ; and yet if 
the Lord sees it not good for you to be alone, He will provide 
you a helpmeet. I say, if He sees the marriage state best 
for you, He has the proper person already in His eye ; and 
though she were in Peru or Nova-Zembla, He knows how 
to bring you together. In the mean time, go thou and 
preach the Gospel. Watch in all things ; endure afflictions ; 
do the work of an evangelist ; make full proof of your 
ministry ; and when other thoughts rise in your mind 
(for you have no door to shut them quite out), run with 
them to the throne of grace, and commit them to the Lord. 
Satan will, perhaps, try to force them upon you unseason 
ably and inordinately ; but if he sees they drive you to 
prayer, he will probably desist, rather than be the occasion 
of doing you so much good. Believe, likewise, that as the 
Lord has the appointment of the person, so He fixes the 
time. His time is like the time of the tide ; all the art and 
power of man can neither hasten nor retard it a moment : 
it must be waited for ; nothing can be done without it, and 
when it comes, nothing can resist it. It is unbelief that 
talks of delays : faith knows that properly there can be no 
such thing. The only reason why the Lord seems to 
delay what He afterwards grants, is that the best hour 
is not yet come. I know you have been enabled to commit 
and resign your all to His disposal. You did well. May 
He help you to stand to the surrender ! Sometimes He 
will put us to the trial, whether we mean what we say. He 
takes His course in a way we did not expect ; and then, 
alas ! how often does the trial put us to shame ! Presently 
there is an outer} raised in the soul against His manage 
ment ; this is wrong, that unnecessary, the other has spoiled 
the whole plan ; in short, all these things are against us. 
And when we go into the pulpit, and gravely tell the people 
how wise and how good He is ; and preach submission to 
His will, not only as a duty, but a privilege ; alas ! how 


deceitful is the heart ! Yet, since it is and will be so, it is 
necessary we should know it by experience. We have 
reason, however, to say, He is good and wise ; for He bears 
with our perverseness, and in the event shows us, that 
if He had listened to our murmurings, and taken the methods 
we would have prescribed to Him, we should have been mined 
indeed, and that He has been all the while doing us good in 
spite of ourselves. 

If I judge right, you will find your way providentially 
opened more and more ; and yet it is possible, that when 
you begin to think yourself sure, something may happen to 
put you in a panic again. But a believer, like a sailor, is 
not to be surprised if the wind changes, but to learn the art 
of suiting himself to all winds for the time ; and though 
many a poor sailor is shipwrecked, the poor believer shall 
gain his port. O, it is good sailing with an infallible Pilot at 
the helm, who has the wind and weather at His command ! 

I have been much abroad, which of course puts things at 
sixes and sevens at home. If I did not love you well, I 
could not have spared so much of the only day I have had 
to myself for this fortnight past. But I was willing you 
should know that I think of you, and feel for you, if I cannot 
help you. 

I have read Mr. s book. Some things I think 

strongly argued ; in some he has laid himself open to a 
blow, and I doubt not but he will have it. I expect answers, 
replies, rejoinders, &c. &c. and say, with Leah, Gad a 
troop cometh. How the wolf will grin to see the sheep and 
the shepherds biting and worrying one another ! And well 
he may. He knows that contentions are a surer way to 
weaken the spirit of love, and stop the progress of the 
Gospel, than his old stale method of fire and sword. Well, 
I trust we shall be of one heart and one mind when we get 
to Heaven at least. 

Let who will fight, I trust neither water nor fire shall set 
you and me at variance. We unite in love to you. The 
Lord is gracious to us, &c. 

I am, &c. 



DEAR SIR, 1776. 

I DO not often serve your letters so, but this last I 
burnt, believing you would like to have it out of danger 
of falling into improper hands. When I saw how eagerly 
the flames devoured the paper, how quickly and entirely 
every trace of the writing was consumed, I wished that the 
fire of the love of Jesus might as completely obliterate from 
your heart every uneasy impression which your disappoint 
ment has given you. * * * * 


Surely when He crosses our wishes, it is always in mercy, 
and because we short-sighted creatures often know not what 
we ask, nor what would be the consequences if our desires 
were granted. 

Your pride, it seems, has received a fall, by meeting a 
repulse. I know Self does not like to be mortified in these 
affairs ; but if you are made successful in wooing souls for 
Christ, I hope that will console you for meeting a rebuff 
when only wooing for yourself. Besides, I would have you 
pluck up your spirits. I have two good old proverbs at your 
service : " There are as good fish in the sea as any that are 
brought out of it ; " and, " If one won t, another will, or 
wherefore serves the market ? " Perhaps all your difficulties 
have arisen from this, that you have not yet seen the right 
person ; if so, you have reason to be thankful that the 
Lord would not let you take the wrong, though you unwit 
tingly would have done it if you could. Where the right 
one lies hid I know not, but upon a supposition that it will 
be good for you to marry, I may venture to say, 

Ubi, ubi est, diu celari non potest, 

The Lord in His providence will disclose her, put her in your 
way, and give you to understand, This is she. Then you 
will find your business go forward with wheels and wings, 
and have cause to say, His choice and time were better than 
your own. 

Did I not tell you formerly, that if you would take care 
of His business He will take care of yours ? I am of the 


same mind still. He will not suffer them who fear Him 
and depend upon Him to want anything that is truly good 
for them. In the mean while, I advise you to take a lodging 
as near as you can to Gethsemane, and to walk daily to 
mount Golgotha, and borrow (which may be had for asking) 
that telescope which gives a prospect into the unseen world. 
A view of what is passing within the veil has a marvellous 
effect to compose our spirits, with regard to the little things 
that are daily passing here. Praise the Lord, who has 
enabled you to fix your supreme affection upon Him, who 
is alone the proper and suitable object of it, and from 
whom you cannot meet a denial, or fear a change. He 
loved you first, and He will love you for ever ; and if He be 
pleased to arise and smile upon you, you are in no more 
necessity of begging for happiness to the prettiest creature 
upon earth, than of the light of a candle on midsummer 

Upon the whole, I pray and hope the Lord will sweeten 
your cross, and either in kind or in kindness make you good 
amends. Wait, pray, and believe, and all shall be well. 
A cross we must have somewhere ; and they who are 
favoured with health, plenty, peace, and a conscience 
sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, must have more causes 
for thankfulness than grief. Look round you, and take 
notice of the very severe afflictions which many of the Lord s 
own people are groaning under, and your trials will appear 
comparatively light. Our love to all friends. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, June 3, 1777. 

IT seems I must write something about the smallpox, 
but I know not well what : not having had it myself, 
I cannot judge how I should feel if I were actually exposed 
to it. I am not a professed advocate for inoculation ; but 
if a person who fears the Lord should tell me, " I think I can 
do it in faith, looking upon it as a salutary expedient, which 


He in His providence has discovered, and which, therefore, 
it appears my duty to have recourse to, so that my mind 
does not hesitate with respect to the lawfulness, nor am I 
anxious about the event ; being satisfied, that whether I 
live or die, I am in that path in which I can cheerfully expect 
His blessing," I do not know that I could offer a word by 
way of dissuasion. 

If another person should say, " My times are in the Lord s 
hands ; I am now in health, and am not willing to bring 
upon myself a disorder, the consequences of which I cannot 
possibly foresee : If I am to have the small-pox, I believe 
He is the best Judge of the season and manner in which I 
shall be visited, so as may be most for His glory and my 
own good ; and therefore I choose to wait His appointment, 
and not to rush upon even the possibility of danger without 
a call. If the very hairs of my head are numbered, I have 
no reason to fear that, supposing I receive the small-pox in 
a natural way, I shall have a single pimple more than He 
sees expedient ; and why should I wish to have one less ? 
Nay, admitting, which however is not always the case, that 
inoculation might exempt me from some pain and incon 
venience, and lessen the apparent danger, might it not 
likewise, upon that very account, prevent my receiving 
some of those sweet consolations, which I humbly hope 
my gracious Lord would afford me, if it were His pleasure 
to call me to a sharp trial ? Perhaps the chief design of this 
trying hour, if it comes, may be to show me more of His 
wisdom, power, and love, than I have ever yet experienced. 
If I could devise a mean to avoid the trouble, I know not 
how great a loser I may be in point of grace and comfort. 
Nor am I afraid of my face ; it is now as the Lord has made 
it, and it will be so after the small-pox. If it pleases Him, 
I hope it will please me. In short, though I do not censure 
others, yet, as to myself, inoculation is what I dare not 
venture upon. If I did venture, and the issue should not 
be favourable, I should blame myself for having attempted 
to take the management out of the Lord s hand into my 
own, which I never did yet in other matters without 
finding I am no more able than I am worthy to choose 
for myself. Besides, at the best, inoculation would only 
secure me from one of the innumerable natural evils the 


flesh is heir to ; I should still be as liable as I am at present 
to a putrid fever, a bilious cholic, an inflammation in the 
bowels or in the brain, and a thousand formidable diseases 
which are hovering round me, and only wait His permission 
to cut me off in a few days or hours : and therefore I am 
determined, by His grace, to resign myself to His disposal. 
Let me fall into the hands of the Lord (for His mercies are 
great) and not into the hands of men." 

If a person should talk to me in this strain, most certainly 
I could not say, " Notwithstanding all this, your safest way 
is to be inoculated." 

We preach and hear, and I hope we know something 
of faith, as enabling us to intrust the Lord with our souls : I 
wish we had all more faith, to intrust Him with our bodies, 
our health, our provision, and our temporal comforts like 
wise. The former should seem to require the strongest 
faith of the two. How strange is it, that when we think we 
can do the greater, we should be so awkward and unskilful 
when we aim at the less ! Give my love to your friend. I 
dare not advise ; but if she can quietly return at the usual 
time, and neither run intentionally into the way of the 
small-pox, nor run out of the way, but leave it simply with 
the Lord, I shall not blame her. And if you will mind your 
praying and preaching, and believe that the Lord can take 
care of her without any of your contrivances, I shall not 
blame you ; nay, I shall praise Him for you both. My 
prescription is, to read Dr. Watts, Psal. cxxi. every morning 
before breakfast, and pray it over till the cure is effected. 
Probatum est. 

Hast Thou not given Thy word 

To save my soul from death ? 
And I can trust my Lord, 

To keep my mortal breath. 
I ll go and come 

Nor fear to die, 

Till from on high 
Thou call me home. 

Adieu. Pray for yours. 






LET what has been said on the subject of acquaintance, 
&c., suffice. It was well meant on my side, and well taken 
on yours. You may, perhaps, see that my hints were 
not wholly unnecessary, and I ought to be satisfied with your 
apology, and am so. The circumstance of your being seen 
at the play-house has nothing at all mysterious in it : as 
you say you have not been there these six or seven years, 
it was neither more nor less than a mistake. I heard you 
had been there within these two years : I am glad to find 
I was misinformed. I think there is no harm in your 
supposing, that of the many thousands who frequent public 
diversions, some may in other respects be better than your 
self ; but I hope your humble and charitable construction 
of their mistake will not lead you to extenuate the evil of 
those diversions in themselves. For though I am persuaded, 
that a few, who know better what to do with themselves, 
are, for want of consideration, drawn in to expose themselves 
in such places ; yet I am well satisfied, that if there is any 
practice in this land sinful, attendance on the play-house is 
properly and eminently so. The theatres are fountains and 
means of vice : I had almost said, in the same manner and 
degree as the ordinances of the Gospel are the means of grace ; 
and I can hardly think there is a Christian upon earth who 
would dare to be seen there, if the nature and effects of 
the theatre were properly set before them. Dr. Witherspoon 
of Scotland has written an excellent piece upon the stage, 



or rather against it, which I wish every person who makes 
the least pretence to fear God had an opportunity of perusing. 
I cannot judge much more favourably of Ranelagh, Vauxhall, 
and all the innumerable train of dissipations, by which the 
god of this world blinds the eyes of multitudes, lest the light 
of the glorious Gospel should shine in upon them. What 
an awful aspect upon the present times have such texts 
as Isaiah xxii. 12 14, iii. 12 ; Amos vi. 3, 6 ; James iv. 4 ! 
I wish you, therefore, not to plead for any of them, but to 
use ,your influence to make them shunned as pest-houses, 
and dangerous nuisances to precious souls ; especially, if 
you know any who you hope, in the main, are seriously 
disposed, who yet venture themselves in those purlieus of 
Satan, endeavour earnestly and faithfully to undeceive 

The time is short ; eternity at the door : were there 
no other evil in these vain amusements than the loss of 
precious time, (but, alas ! their name is Legion,) we have 
not leisure in our circumstances to regard them. And, 
blessed be God ! we need them not. The Gospel opens a 
source of purer, sweeter, and more substantial pleasures : 
we are invited to communion with God ; we are called 
to share in the theme of angels, the songs of Heaven ; and 
the wonders of redeeming love are laid open to our view. 
The Lord Himself is waiting to be gracious, waiting with 
promises and pardons in His hands. Well, then, may we bid 
adieu to the perishing pleasures of sin ; well may we pity 
those who can find pleasure in those places and parties 
where He is shut out ; where His name is only mentioned 
to be profaned ; where His commandments are not only 
broken, but insulted ; where sinners proclaim their shame, 
as in Sodom, and attempt not to hide it ; where at best 
wickedness is wrapt up in a disguise of delicacy, to make it 
more insinuating ; and nothing is offensive that is not 
grossly and impolitely indecent. 

I sympathise with all your complaints ; but if the Lord 
is pleased to make them subservient to the increase of your 
sanctification, to wean you more and more from this world, 
and to draw you nearer to Himself, you will one day see 
cause to be thankful for them, and to number them amongst 
your choicest mercies. A hundred years hence it will 


signify little to you whether you were sick or well the day 
I wrote this letter. 

We thank you for your kind condolence. There is a 
pleasure in the pity of a friend ; but the Lord alone can give 
true comfort. I hope He will sanctify the breach, and do 
us good. Mrs. - exchanges forgiveness with you about 
your not meeting in London ; that is, you forgive her not 
coming to you, and she forgives your entertaining a suspicious 
thought of her friendship (though but for a minute) on 
account of what she was really unable to do. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, Sept. i, 1767. 

I SHALL not study for expressions to tell my dear 
friend how much we were affected by the news that came 
last post. We had, how r ever, the pleasure to hear that 
your family was safe. I hope this will find you recovered 
from the hurry of spirits you must have been thrown into, 
and that both you and your papa are composed under the 
appointment of Him who has a right to dispose of His own 
as He pleases ; for we know that whatever may be the 
second causes and occasions, nothing can happen to us but 
according to the will of our Heavenly Father. Since what 
is past cannot be recalled, my part is now to pray, that this 
and every dispensation you meet with may be sanctified 
to your soul s good ; that you may be more devoted to the 
God of your life, and have a clearer sense of your interest 
in that Kingdom which cannot be shaken, that treasure 
which neither thieves nor flames can touch, that better 
and more enduring substance which is laid up for believers, 
where Jesus their Head and Saviour is. With this view 
you may take joyfully the spoiling of your goods. 

I think I can feel for my friends ; but for such as I hope have 
a right to that promise, that all things shall work together 
for their good, I soon check my solicitude, and ask myself, 
Do I love them better, or could I manage more wisely for 


them, than the Lord does ? Can I wish them to be in safer 
or more compassionate hands than in His ? Will He who 
delights in the prosperity of His servants afflict them with 
sickness, losses, and alarms, except He sees there is need of 
these things ? Such thoughts calm the emotions of my mind. 
I sincerely condole with you ; but the command is to rejoice 
always in the Lord. The visitation was accompanied with 
mercy. Not such a case as that of the late Lady Moles- 
worth s, which made every one s ears to tingle that heard it. 
Nor is yours such a case as of some, who in almost every great 
fire lose their all, and, perhaps, have no knowledge of God 
to support them. 

Though our first apprehensions were for you, we almost 
forgot you for a moment, when we thought of your next- 
door neighbour, and the circumstances she was in, so unfit 
to bear either a fright or a removal. We shall be in much 
suspense till we hear from you. God grant that you may 
be able to send us good news, that you are all well, at least 
as well as can be expected after such a distressing scene. If 
what has happened should give you more leisure or more 
inclination to spend a little time with us, I think I need not 
say we shall rejoice to receive you. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, Sept. 3, 1767. 

THE vanity of all tilings below is confirmed to us by 
daily experience. Amongst other proofs, one is the pre- 
cariousness of our intimacies, and what little things, or 
rather what nothings, will sometimes produce a coolness, 
or at least a strangeness, between the dearest friends. How 
is it tliat our correspondence has been dropped, and that, 
after having written two letters since the fire which removed 
you from your former residence, I should be still disappointed 
in my hopes of an answer ? On our parts I hope there has 
been no abatement of regard ; nor can I charge you with 
anything but remissness. Therefore, waiving the past, 


and all apologies on either side, let me beg you to write soon, 
to tell us how it is with you, and how you have been sup 
ported under the various changes you have met with since 
we saw you last. I doubt not but you have met with 
many exercises. I pray that they may have been sanctified 
to lead you nearer to the Lord, the Fountain of all consola 
tion, who is the only refuge in time of trouble, and whose 
gracious presence is abundantly able to make up every 
deficiency and every loss. Perhaps the reading of this may 
recall to your mind our past conversations, and the subjects 
of the many letters we have exchanged. I know not in 
what manner to write after so long an interval. I would 
hope your silence to us has not been owing to any change 
of sentiments, which might make such letters as mine less 
welcome to you. Yet when you had a friend, who I think 
you believed very nearly interested himself in your welfare, 
it seems strange, that in a course of two years you should 
have nothing to communicate. I cannot suppose you have 
forgotten me ; I am sure I have not forgotten you ; and 
therefore, I long to hear from you soon, that I may know 
how to write : and should this likewise pass unanswered, I 
must sit down and mourn over my loss. 

As to our affairs, I can tell you the Lord has been and is 
exceedingly gracious to us ; our lives are preserved, our 
healths continued, an abundance of mercies and blessings 
on every side ; but especially we have to praise Him that 
He is pleased to crown the means and ordinances of His 
grace with tokens of His presence. It is my happiness to 
be fixed amongst an affectionate people, who make an open 
profession of the truth as it is in Jesus, and are enabled in 
some measure to show forth its power in their lives and 
conversation. We walk in peace and harmony. I have 
reason to say the Lord Jesus is a good Master, and that 
the doctrine of free salvation, by faith in His name, is a 
doctrine according to godliness ; for through mercy I find 
it daily effectual to the breaking down of the strongholds of 
sin, and turning the hearts of sinners from dead works to 
serve the living God. May the Lord give my dear friend to 
live in the power and consolation of His precious truth ! 

I am, &c. 





March 18, 1767. 

I CAN truly say, that I bear you upon my heart and 
in my prayers. I have rejoiced to see the beginning of a 
good and gracious work in you ; and I have confidence in 
the Lord Jesus, that He will carry it on and complete it ; 
and that you will be amongst the number of those who shall 
sing redeeming love to eternity. Therefore fear none of 
the things appointed for you to suffer by the way ; but gird 
up the loins of your mind, and hope to the end. Be not 
impatient, but wait humbly upon the Lord. You have one 
hard lesson to learn, that is, the evil of your own heart : 
you know something of it, but it is needful that you should 
know more ; for the more we know of ourselves, the more we 
shall prize and love Jesus and His salvation. I hope what 
you find in yourself by daily experience will humble you, 
but not discourage you ; humble you it should, and I believe 
it does. Are not you amazed sometimes that you should 
have so much as a hope that, poor and needy as you are, the 
Lord thinketh of you ? But let not all you feel discourage 
you ; for if our Physician is almighty, our disease cannot be 
desperate ; and if He casts none out that come to Him, why 
should you fear ? Our sins are many, but His mercies 
are more : our sins are great, but His righteousness is 
greater : we are weak, but He is power. Most of our 
complaints are owing to unbelief, and the remainder of a 
legal spirit ; and these evils are not removed in a day. Wait 
on the Lord, and He will enable you to see more and more 



of the power and grace of our High Priest. The more you 
know Him, the better you will trust Him ; the more you 
trust Him, the better you will love Him ; the more you love 
Him, the better you will serve Him. This is God s way : 
you are not called to buy, but to beg ; not to be strong in 
yourself, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. He is 
teaching you these things, and I trust He will teach you to 
the end. Remember the growth of a believer is not like 
a mushroom, but like an oak, which increases slowly indeed, 
but surely. Many suns, showers, and frosts pass upon it 
before it comes to perfection ; and in winter, when it seems 
dead, it is gathering strength at the root. Be humble, 
watchful, and diligent in the means, and endeavour to look 
through all, and fix your eye upon Jesus, and all shall be 
well. I commend you to the care of the good Shepherd, 
and remain, for His sake, 

Yours, &c. 


May 31, 1769. 

I WAS sorry I did not write as you expected, but I 
hope it will do now. Indeed I have not forgotten you ; 
you are often in my thoughts, and seldom omitted in my 
prayers. I hope the Lord will make what you see and hear 
while abroad profitable to you, to increase your knowledge, 
to strengthen your faith, and to make you from henceforth 
well satisfied with your situation. If I am not mistaken, 
you will be sensible, that though there are some desirable 
things to be met with in London preferable to any other 
place, yet, upon the whole, a quiet situation in the country, 
under one stated ministry, and in connexion with one 
people, has the advantage. It is pleasant now and then to 
have opportunity of hearing a variety of preachers, but the 
best and greatest of them are no more than instruments ; 
some can please the ear better than others ; but none can 
reach the heart any farther than the Lord is pleased to open 
it. This He showed you upon your first going up, and I 

Y 2 


doubt not but your disappointment did you more good 
than if you had heard with all the pleasure you expected. 

The Lord was pleased to visit me with a slight illness 
in my late journey. I was far from well on the Tuesday, 
but supposed it owing to the fatigue of riding, and the heat 
of the weather ; but the next day I was taken with a 
shivering, to which a fever succeeded. I was then near sixty 
miles from home. The Lord gave me much peace in my 
soul, ?and I was enabled to hope He would bring me safe 
home, in which I was not disappointed ; and though I had 
the fever most part of the way, my journey was not unpleas 
ant. He likewise strengthened me to preach twice T on 
Sunday ; and at night I found myself well, only very weary, 
and I have continued well ever since. I have reason to 
speak much of His goodness, and to kiss the rod, for it was 
sweetened with abundant mercies. I thought that had it 
been His pleasure I should have continued sick at Oxford, 
or even have died there, I had no objection. Though I 
had not that joy and sensible comfort which some are 
favoured with, yet I was quite free from pain, fear, and 
care, and felt mysell sweetly composed to His will, whatever 
it might be. Thus He fulfils His promise in making our 
strengthen equal to our day ; and every new trial gives us 
a new proof how happy it is to be enabled to put our trust 
in Him. 

I hope, in the midst of all your engagements, you find a 
little time to read His good Word, and to wait at His mercy- 
seat. It is good for us to draw nigh to Him. It is an honour 
that He permits us to pray ; and we shall surely find He is 
a God hearing prayer. Endeavour to be diligent in the 
means ; yet watch and strive against a legal spirit, which 
is always aiming to represent Him as a hard master, watching 
as it were to take advantage of us. But it is far otherwise. 
His name is Love ! He looks upon us with compassion ; 
He knows our frame, and remembers that we are but dust ; 
and when our infirmities prevail, He does not bid us despond, 
but reminds us that we have an Advocate with the Father, 
who is able to pity, to pardon, and to save to the uttermost. 
Think of the names and relations He bears. Does He not 
call Himself a Saviour, a Shepherd, a Friend, and a Husband ? 
Has He not made known unto us His love, His blood, His 


righteousness, His promises, His power, and His grace, 
and all for our encouragement ? Away, then, with all 
doubting, unbelieving thoughts ; they will not only distress 
your heart, but weaken your hands. Take it for granted 
upon the warrant of His word, that you are His, and He is 
yours ; that He has loved you with an everlasting love, and 
therefore in loving-kindness has drawn you to Himself ; 
that He will surely accomplish that which He has begun, 
and that nothing which can be named or thought of shall 
ever be able to separate you from Him. This persuasion 
will give you strength for the battle ; this is the shield which 
will quench the fiery darts of Satan ; this is the helmet 
which the enemy cannot pierce. Whereas, if we go forth 
doubting and fearing, and are afraid to trust any farther 
than we can feel, we are weak as water, and easily overcome. 
Be strong, therefore, not in yourself, but in the grace that 
is in Christ Jesus. Pray for me, and believe me to be 

Yours, &c. 


March 14. 

I THINK you would hardly expect me to write if you 
knew how I am forced to live at London. However, I 
would have you believe I am as willing to write to you 
as you are to receive my letters. As a proof, I try to 
send you a few lines now, though I am writing to you, 

and talking to Mrs. , both at once ! and this is the 

only season I can have to exchange a few words with her. 
She is a woman of a sorrowful spirit ; she talks and weeps. 
I believe she would think herself happy to be situated as 
you are, notwithstanding the many advantages she has at 
London. I see daily, and I hope you have likewise learned, 
that places and outward circumstances cannot of themselves 
either hinder or help us in walking with God. So far as He 
is pleased to be with us, and to teach us by His Spirit, 
wherever we are we shall get forward ; and if He does not 
bless us and water us every moment, the more we have of 


our own wishes and wills, the more uneasy we shall make 

One thing is needful ; an humble, dependent spirit, to 
renounce our own wills, and give up ourselves to His disposal 
without reserve. This is the path of peace ; and it is the 
path of safety ; for He has said, the meek He will teach 
His way, and those who yield up themselves to Him He 
will guide with His eye. I hope you will fight and pray 
against every rising of a murmuring spirit, and be thankful 
for the great things which He has already done for you. 
It is good to be humbled for sin, but not to be discouraged : 
for though we are poor creatures, Jesus is a complete Saviour ; 
and we bring more honour to God by believing in His name, 
and trusting His word of promise, than we could do by a 
thousand outward works. 

I pray the Lord to shine upon your soul, and to fill you 
with all joy and peace in believing. Remember to pray 
for us, that we may be brought home to you in peace. 

I am, &c. 


London, Aug. 19, 1775. 

You see I am mindful of my promise ; and glad 
should I be to write something that the Lord may be 
pleased to make a word in season. I went yesterday 
into the pulpit very dry and heartless. I seemed to have 
fixed upon a text, but when I came to the pinch, it was so 
shut up that I could not preach from it. I had hardly a 
minute to choose, and therefore was forced to snatch at 
that which came first upon my mind, which proved 2 Tim. 
i. 12. Thus I set off at a venture, having no resource but 
in the Lord s mercy and faithfulness ; and, indeed, what 
other can we wish for ? Presently my subject opened ; 
and I know not when I have been favoured with more liberty. 
Why do I tell you this ? Only as an instance of His good 
ness, to encourage you to put your strength in Him, and not 
to be afraid even when you feel your own weakness and 


insufficiency most sensibly. We are never more safe, never 
have more reason to expect the Lord s help, than when we 
are most sensible that we can do nothing without Him. 
This was the lesson Paul learnt, to rejoice in His own poverty 
and emptiness, that the power of Christ might rest upon 
Him. Could Paul have done anything, Jesus would not 
have had the honour of doing all. This way of being saved 
entirely by grace, from first to last, is contrary to our 
natural wills ; it mortifies self, leaving it nothing to boast 
of, and through the remains of an unbelieving, legal spirit, 
it often seems discouraging. When we think ourselves so 
utterly helpless and worthless, we are too ready to fear 
that the Lord will therefore reject us ; whereas, in truth, 
such a poverty of spirit is the best mark we can have of 
an interest in His promises and care. 

How often have I longed to be an instrument of estab 
lishing you in the peace and hope of the Gospel ! and I 
have but one way of attempting it, by telling you over 
and over of the power and grace of Jesus. You want 
nothing to make you happy, but to have the eyes of your 
understanding more fixed upon the Redeemer, and more 
enlightened by the Holy Spirit to behold His glory. O ! 
He is a suitable Saviour ! He has power, authority, and 
compassion, to save to the uttermost. He has given His 
word of promise, to engage our confidence, and He is able 
and faithful to make good the expectations and desires 
He has raised in us. Put your trust in Him ; believe (as 
we say) through thick and thin, in defiance of all objections 
from within and without. For this, Abraham is recom 
mended as a pattern to us. He overlooked all difficulties ; 
he ventured and hoped even against hope, in a case which 
to appearance was desperate ; because he knew that He 
who had promised was also able to perform. 

Your sister is much upon my mind. Her illness grieves 
me ; were it in my power, I would quickly remove it. 
The Lord can, and I hope will, when it has answered the 
end for which He sent it. I trust He has brought her to 
us for good, and that she is chastised by Him that she may 
not be condemned with the world. I hope, though she says 
little, she lifts up her heart to Him for a blessing. I wish 
you may be enabled to leave her and yourself, and all 


your concerns, in His hands. He has a sovereign right to 
do with us as He pleases ; and if we consider what we 
are, surely we shall confess we have no reason to complain ; 
and to those who seek Him, His sovereignty is exercised 
in a way of grace. All shall work together for good ; 
everything is needful that He sends ; nothing can be needful 
that He withholds. Be content to bear the cross ; others 
have borne it before you. You have need of patience ; 
and if you ask, the Lord will give it : but there can be 
no settled peace till our will is in a measure subdued. Hide 
yourself under the shadow of His wings ; rely upon His 
care and power ; look upon Him as a physician who has 
graciously undertaken to heal your soul of the worst of 
sicknesses, sin. Yield to His prescriptions, and fight 
against every thought that would represent it as desirable 
to be permitted to choose for yourself. When you cannot 
see your way, be satisfied that He is your leader. When 
your spirit is overwhelmed within you, He knows your 
path ; He will not leave you to sink. He has appointed 
seasons of refreshment, and you shall find He does not forget 
you. Above all, keep close to the throne of g.ace. If we 
seem to get no good by attempting to draw near Him 
we may be sure we shall get none by keeping away from 

I am, &c. 


I PROMISED you another letter ; and now for the per 
formance. If I had said, it may be, or perhaps I will, 
you would be in suspense ; but if I promise, then you 
expect that I will not disappoint you unless something 
should render it impossible for me to make my word good. 
I thank you for your good opinion of me, and for thinking 
I mean what I say ; and I pray that you may be enabled 
more and more to honour the Lord by believing His promise : 
for He is not like a man that should fail or change, or be 
prevented by anything unforeseen from doing what He has 


said. And yet we find it easier to trust to worms than to 
the God of truth. Is it not so with you ? And I can assure 
you it is often so with me. But here is the mercy, that His 
ways are above ours, as the heavens are higher than the 
earth. Though we are foolish and unbelieving, He remains 
faithful ; He will not deny Himself. I recommend to you 
especially that promise of God, which is so comprehensive 
that it takes in all our concernments, I mean, that all things 
shall work together for good. How hard is it to believe, 
that not only those things which are grievous to the flesh, 
but even those things which draw forth our corruptions, 
and discover to us what is in our hearts, and fill us with 
guilt and shame, should in the issue work for our good ! 
Yet the Lord has said it. All your pains and trials, all 
that befals you in your own person, or that affects you 
upon the account of others, shall in the end prove to your 
advantage. And your peace does not depend upon any 
change of circumstance which may appear desirable, but 
in having your will bowed to the Lord s will, and made 
willing to submit all to His disposal and management. 
Pray for this, and wait patiently for Him, and He will do 
it. Be not surprised to find yourself poor, helpless, and 
vile ; all whom He favours and teaches will find themselves 
so. The more grace increases, the more we shall see to 
abase us in our own eyes ; and this will make the Saviour 
and His salvation more precious to us. He takes His own 
wise methods to humble you, and to prove you, and I am 
sure He will do you good in the end. 

I am, &c. 


September 16, 1775. 

WHEN you receive this, I hope it will give you pleasure 
to think that, if the Lord be pleased to favour us with 
health, we shall all meet again^in a few days. I have 
met with much kindness at London, and many comforts 
and mercies : however, 1 shall be glad to return home. 


There my heart lives, let my body be where it will. I long 
to see all my dear people, and I shall be glad to see you. 
I steal a little time to write another line or two, more to 
satisfy you, than for anything particular I have to say. I 
thank you for your letter. I doubt not but the Lord 
is bringing you forward, and that you have a good right 
to say to your soul, Why art thou cast down and disquieted ? 
Hope thou in God ; for I shall yet praise Him. An evil 
hear^, an evil temper, and the many crosses we meet with 
in passing through an evil world, will cut us out trouble : 
but the Lord has provided a balm for every wound, a 
cordial for every care ; the fruit of all is to take away 
sin, and the end o ( . all will be eternal life in glory. Think 
of these words ; put them in the balance of the sanctuary ; 
and then throw all your trials into the opposite scale, 
and you will find there is no proportion between them. 
Say then, " Though He slay me, I will trust in Him ; " 
for when He has fully tried me, I shall come forth like 
gold. You would have liked to have been with me last 
Wednesday. I preached at Westminster Bridewell. It 
is a prison and house of correction. The bulk of my congre 
gation were housebreakers, highwaymen, pickpockets, and 
poor unhappy women, such as infest the streets of the city, 
sunk in sin and lost to shame. I had a hundred or more 
of these before me. I preached from i Tim. i. 15, and began 
with telling them my own story : this gained their attention 
more than I expected. I spoke to them near an hour 
and a half. I shed many tears myself, and saw some 
of them shed tears likewise. Ah ! had you seen their 
present condition, and could you hear the history of some 
of them, it would make you sing, " O to grace how great a 
debtor ! " By nature they were no worse than the most 
sober and modest people. And there was doubtless a time 
when many of them little thought what they should live to 
do and suffer. I might have been, like them, in chains, 
and one of them have come to preach to me, had the Lord 
so pleased. 

I am, &c. 



October 10, 1777. 

I AM just come from seeing A N . The 

people told me she is much better than she was, but she 
is far from being well. She was brought to me into a 
parlour, which saved me the painful task of going to inquire 
and seek for her among the patients. My spirits always 
sink when I am within these mournful walls, and I think 
no money could prevail on me to spend an hour there every 
day. Yet surely no sight upon earth is more suited to 
teach one thankfulness and resignation. Surely I have 
reason, in my worst times, to be thankful that I am out of 
hell, out of Bedlam, out of Newgate. If my eyes were as 
bad as yours, and my back worse, still I hope I should set a 
great value upon this mercy, that my senses are preserved. 
I hope you will think so too. The Lord afflicts us at 
times ; but it is always a thousand times less than we 
deserve, and much less than many of our fellow-creatures 
are suffering around us. Let us therefore pray for grace 
to be humble, thankful, and patient. 

This day twelvemonth I was under Mr. W s knife ; 

there is another cause for thankfulness, that the Lord 
inclined me to submit to the operation, and brought me 
happily through it. In short, I have so many reasons 
for thankfulness, that I cannot count them. I may truly 
say, they are more in number than the hairs of my head. 
And, yet, alas ! how cold, insensible, and ungrateful ! 
I could make as many complaints as you ; but I find no 
good by complaining, except to Him who is able to help me. 
It is better for you and me to be admiring the compassion 
and fulness of grace that is in our Saviour, than to dwell 
and pore too much upon our own poverty and vileness. 
He is able to help and save to the uttermost ; there I desire 
to cast anchor, and wish you to do so likewise. Hope in 
God, for you shall yet praise Him. 

I am, &c. 



MR. C 


DEAR SIR, Jan. 16, 1775. 

THE death of a near relative called me from home in 
December, and a fortnight s absence threw me so far behind 
hand in my course, that I deferred acknowledging your letter 
much longer than I intended. I now thank you for it. I 
can sympathize with you in your troubles : yet knowing 
the nature of our calling, that by an unalterable appoint 
ment the way to the Kingdom lies through many tribulations, 
I ought to rejoice rather than otherwise, that to you it is 
given, not only to believe, but also to suffer. If you escaped 
these things, whereof all the Lord s children are partakers, 
might you not question your adoption into His family ? 
How could the power of grace be manifest, either to you, in 
you, or by you, without afflictions ? How could the corrup 
tions and devastations of the heart be checked without a 
cross ? How could you acquire a tenderness and skill in 
speaking to them that are weary, without a taste of such 
trials as they also meet with ? You could only be a hearsay 
witness to the truth, power, and sweetness of the precious 
promises, unless you have been in such a situation as to 
need them, and to find their suitableness and sufficiency. 
The Lord has given you a good desire to serve Him in the 
Gospel, and He is now training you for that service. Many 
things, yea, the most important things belonging to the 
Gospel ministry, are not to be learned by books and study, 
but by painful experience. You must expect a variety of 
exercises : but two things He has promised you, that you 



shall not be tried above what He will enable you to bear, 
and that all shall work together for your good. We read 
somewhere of a conceited orator, who declaimed upon the 
management of war in the presence of Hannibal, and of the 
contempt with which Hannibal treated his performance. 
He deserved it ; for how should a man who had never seen 
a field of battle be a competent judge of such a subject ? 
Just so, were we to acquire no other knowledge of the Christ 
ian warfare than what we could derive from cool and 
undisturbed study, instead of coming forth as able ministers 
of the New Testament, and competently acquainted with 
the ra yoj^ara, with the devices, the deep-laid counsels and 
stratagems of Satan, we should prove but mere declaimers. 
But the Lord will take better care of those whom He loves 
and designs to honour. He will try, and permit them to be 
tried, in various ways. He will make them feel much in 
themselves, that they may know how to feel much for others ; 
according to that beautiful and expressive line, 

Hand ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco. 

And as this previous discipline is necessary to enable us 
to take the field, in a public capacity, with courage, wisdom, 
and success, that we may lead and animate others in the 
fight, it is equally necessary, for our own sakes, that we may 
obtain and preserve the grace of humility, which I perceive 
with pleasure he has taught you to set a high value upon. 
Indeed, we cannot value it too highly ; for we can be 
neither comfortable, safe, nor habitually useful, without it. 
The root of pride lies deep in our fallen nature, and where 
the Lord has given natural and acquired abilities, it would 
grow apace, if He did not mercifully watch over us and suit 
His dispensations to keep it down. Therefore, I trust He 
will make you willing to endure hardships, as a good soldier 
of Jesus Christ. May He enable you to behold Him with 
faith, holding out the prize, and saying to you, Fear none 
of these things that thou shalt suffer : " Be thou faithful 
unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." 

We sail upon a turbulent and tumultuous sea ; but we are 
embarked on a good bottom, and in a good cause, and we 
have an infallible and almighty Pilot, who has the winds 
and weather at His command, and can silence the storm into 


a calm with a word whenever He pleases. We may be 
persecuted, but we shall not be forsaken ; we may be cast 
down, but we cannot be destroyed. Many will thrust sore 
at us that we may fall, but the Lord will be our stay. 

I am sorry to find you are quite alone at Cambridge, for 
I hoped there would be a succession of serious students, 
to supply the place of those who are transplanted to shine 
as lights in the world. Yet you are not alone ; for the Lord 
is with you, the best Counsellor and the best Friend. There 
is a strange backwardness in us (at least in me) fully to 
improve that gracious intimacy to which He invites us. 
Alas ! that we so easily wander from the fountain of life, 
to hew out cisterns for ourselves, and that we seem more 
attached to a few drops of His grace in our fellow-creatures, 
than to the fulness of grace that is in Himself ! I think 
nothing gives me a more striking sense of my depravity, 
than my perverseness and folly in this respect ; yet He 
bears with me, and does me good continually. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, March, 1776. 

I KNOW not the length of your college terms, but hope 
this may come time enough to find you still resident. I shall 
not apologize for writing no sooner, because I leave other 
letters of much longer date unanswered, that I may write 
so soon. It gave me particular pleasure to hear that the Lord 
helped you through your difficulties, and succeeded your 
desires ; and I have sympathized with you in the complaints 
you make of a dark and mournful frame of spirits afterwards. 
But is not this, upon the whole, right and salutary, that if 
the Lord is pleased at one time to strengthen us remarkably 
in answer to prayer, He should leave us at another time, 
so far as to give us a real sensibility that we were supported 
by His power, and not our own ? Besides, as you feel 
a danger of being elated by the respect paid you, was it not 
a merciful and seasonable dispensation that made you feel 


your own weakness, to prevent your being exalted above 
measure ? The Lord, by withdrawing His smiles from you, 
reminded you that the smiles of men are of little value, 
otherwise, perhaps, you might have esteemed them too 
highly. Indeed, you scholars that know the Lord, are 
singular instances of the power of His grace ; for (like the 
young men in Dan. iii.) you live in the very midst of the 
fire. Mathematical studies, in particular, have such a 
tendency to engross and fix the mind to the contemplation 
of cold and uninteresting truth, and you are surrounded 
with so much intoxicating applause if you succeed in your 
researches, that for a soul to be kept humble and alive 
in such a situation, is such a proof of the Lord s presence and 
power, as Moses had when he saw the bush unconsumed in 
the midst of the flames. I believe I had naturally a turn 
for the mathematics myself, and dabbled in them a little 
way ; and though I did not go far, my head, sleeping and 
waking, was stuffed with diagrams and calculations. Every 
thing I looked at, that exhibited either a right line, or a 
curve, set my wits a wool-gathering. What, then, must have 
been the case, had I proceeded to the interior arcana, of 
speculative geometry ? I bought my namesake s Principia, 
but I have reason to be thankful that I left it as I found it, 
a sealed book, and that the bent of my mind was drawn 
to something of more real importance before I understood it. 
I say not this to discourage you in your pursuits : they lie 
in your line and path of duty ; in mine they did not. As 
to your academies, I am glad that the Lord enables you to 
show those among whom you live, that the knowledge of His 
Gospel does not despoil you either of diligence or acumen. 
However, as I said, you need a double guard of grace, to 
preserve you from being either puffed up or deadened by those 
things which, considered in any other view than quo ad hoc, 
to preserve your rank and character in the University while 
you remain there, are, if taken in the aggregate, little better 
than a splendidum nihil. If my poor people at - - could 
form the least conception of what the learned at Cambridge 
chiefly admire in each other, and what is the intrinsic reward 
of all their toil, they would say (supposing they could speak 
Latin), Quam suave istis suavitatibus car ere \ How gladly 
would some of them, if such mathematical and metaphysical 


lumber could by any means get into their heads, how gladly 
would they drink at Lethe s stream to get it out again ! 
How many perplexities are they freed from by their happy 
ignorance, which often pester those to their life s end 
who have had their natural proneness to vain reasoning 
sharpened by academical studies ! 


DEAR SIR, May 18, 1776. 

THOUGH I wished to hear from you sooner, I put a candid 
interpretation upon your silence, was somewhat apprehensive 
for your health, but felt no disposition to anger. Let your 
correspondence be free from fetters. Write when you 
please, and when you can : I will do the like. Apologies 
may be spared on both sides. I am not a very punctual 
correspondent myself, having so many letters to write, and 
therefore have no right to stand upon punctilios with you. 

I sympathize with you in your sorrow for your friend s 
death. Such cases are very distressing. But such a case 
might have been our own. Let us pray for grace to be 
thankful for ourselves, and submit everything in humble 
silence to the sovereign Lord, who has a right to do as He 
pleases with His own. Wejfeel what happens in our own 
little connexions ; but Ojthe dreadful mischief of sin ! 
Instances of this kind are as frequent as the hours, the 
minutes, perhaps the moments, of every day : and though 
we know but one in a million, the souls of others have an 
equal capacity for endless happiness or misery. In this 
situation the Lord has honoured us with a call to warn our 
fellow-sinners of their danger, and to set before them His 
free and sure salvation ; and if He is pleased to make us 
instrumental in snatching but one as a brand out of the fire, 
it is a service of more importance than to be the means of 
preserving a whole nation from temporal ruin. I congratu 
late you upon your admission into the ministry, and pray 
Him to favour you with a single eye to His glory, and a 
fresh anointing of His Holy Spirit, that you may come 


forth as a scribe well instructed in the mysteries of His 
Kingdom, and that His word in your mouth may abundantly 

I truly pity those who rise early and take late rest, 
and eat the bread of carefulness with no higher prize and 
prospect in view than the obtaining of academical honours. 
Such pursuits will ere long appear (as they really are) vain 
as the sports of children. May the Lord impress them with 
a noble ambition of living to and for Him ! If these adven 
turers, who are labouring for pebbles under the semblance 
of goodly pearls, had a discovery of the pearl of great price, 
how quickly and gladly would they lay down their admired 
attainments, and become fools that they might be truly 
wise ! What a snare have you escaped ! You would have 
been poorly content with the name of a mathematician or 
a poet, and looked no further, had not He visited your 
heart, and enlightened you by His grace. Now I trust you 
account your former gain but loss, for the excellency of the 
knowledge of Jesus Christ the Lord. \Yhat you have 
attained in a way of literature will be useful lo you if 
sanctified, and chiefly so by the knowledge you have of its 
insufficiency to any valuable purpose in the great concerns 
of walking with God, and winning souls. 

I am pleased with your fears, lest you should not be under 
stood in your preaching. Indeed, there is a danger of it. 
It is not easy for persons of quick parts duly to conceive 
how amazingly ignorant and slow of apprehension the bulk 
of our congregations generally are. When our own ideas 
are clear, and our expressions proper, we are ready to think 
we have sufficiently explained ourselves ; and yet, perhaps, 
nine out of ten (especially of those who are destitute of 
spiritual light) know little more of what we say than if we 
were speaking Greek. A degree of this inconvenience is 
always inseparable from written discourses. They cast our 
thoughts into a style which, though familiar to ourselves, 
is too remote from common conversation to be compre 
hended by narrow capacities ; which is one chief reason 
of the preference I give, c&teris paribus, to extempore 
preaching. When we read to the people, they think them 
selves less concerned in what is offered, than when we speak 
to them point blank. It seems a good rule, which I have 
c. z 

354 CARniPHONlA : 

met with somewhere, and which perhaps I have mentioned 
to you, to fix your eyes upon some one of the auditory whom 
we judge of the least capacity ; if we can make him under 
stand, we may hope to be understood by the rest. Let 
those who seek to be admired for the exactness of their 
composition, enjoy the poor reward they aim at. It is best 
for Gospel preachers to speak plain language. If we thus 
singly aim at the glory of our Master and the good of souls, 
we -may hope for the accompanying power of His Spirit, 
which will give our discourses a weight and energy that 
Demosthenes had no conception of. 

I can give you no information of a curacy in a better situa 
tion. But either the Lord will provide you one, or I trust 
He will give you usefulness and a competency of health and 
spirits where you are. He who caused Daniel to thrive 
upon pulse, can make you strong and cheerful even in the 
Fens, if He sees that best for you. All things obey Him, 
and you need not fear but He will enable you for whatever 
service He has appointed you to perform. 

This letter has been a week in hand ; many interruptions 
from without, and indispositions within. I seem to while 
away my life, and shall be glad to be saved upon the footing 
of the thief upon the cross, without any hope or plea but 
the power and grace of Jesus, who has said, " I will in no 
wise cast out." Adieu. 

Pray for yours, &c. 


DEAR SIR, Sept. 10, 1777. 

I WAS glad to hear from you at last, not being willing 
to think myself forgotten. I supposed you were ill. It seems, 
by your account, that you are far from well : but I hope 
you are as well as you ought to be ; that is, as well as the Lord 
sees it good for you to be. I say, I hope so : for I am not 
sure that the length and vehemence of your sermons, which 
you tell me astonish many people, may not be rather 
improper and imprudent, considering the weakness of your 


constitution ; at least, if this expression of yours be justly 
expounded by a report which has reached me, that the 
length of your sermons is frequently two hours, and the 
vehemence of your voice so great, that you may be heard 
far beyond the church-walls. Unwilling should I be to 
damp your zeal ; but I feel unwilling, likewise, that, by 
excessive unnecessary exertions, you should wear away at 
once, and preclude your own usefulness. This concern is 
so much upon my mind, that I begin with it, though it 
makes me skip over the former part of your letter ; but 
when I have relieved myself upon this point, I can easily 
skip back again. I am perhaps the more ready to credit 
the report, because I know the spirits of you nervous 
people are highly volatile. I consider you as mounted upon 
a fiery steed ; and provided you use due management and 
circumspection, you travel more pleasantly than we plodding 
folks upon our sober phlegmatic nags ; but then, if instead 
of pulling the rein you plunge in the spurs, and add wings 
to the wind, I cannot but be in pain for the consequences. 
Permit me to remind you of the Terentian adage, Ne quid 
nimis. The end of speaking is to be heard, and if the 
persons farthest from the preacher can hear, he speaks loud 
enough. Upon some occasions, a few sentences of a discourse 
may be enforced with a voice still more elevated ; but to be 
uncommonly loud from beginning to end, is hurtful to the 
speaker, and, I apprehend, no way useful to the hearer. 
It is a fault which many inadvertently give in to at first, 
and which many have repented of too late ; when practice 
has rendered it habitual, it is not easily corrected. I know 
some think, that preaching very loudly, and preaching with 
power, are synonymous expressions ; but your judgment 
is too good to fall in with that prejudice. If I were a good 
Grecian, I would send you a quotation from Homer, where 
he describes the eloquence of Nestor, and compares it, if I 
remember right, not to a thunder-storm or a hurricane, 
but to a fall of snow, which, though pressing, insinuating, 
and penetrating, is soft and gentle. You know the passage : 
I think the simile is beautiful and expressive. 

Secondly (as we say), as to long preaching. There is still 
in being an old-fashioned instrument called an hour-glass, 
which, in days of yore, before clocks and watches abounded, 



used to be the measure of many a good sermon, and I think 
it a tolerable stint. I cannot wind up my ends to my own 
satisfaction in a much shorter time, nor am I pleased with 
myself if I greatly exceed it. If an angel were to preach for 
two hours, unless his hearers were angels likewise, I believe 
the greater part of them would wish he had done. It is a 
shame it should be so ; but so it is, partly through the weak- 
nes?, and partly through the wickedness, of the flesh ; 
we can seldom stretch our attention to spiritual things for 
two hours together, without cracking it, and hurting its 
spring ; and when weariness begins, edification ends. 
Perhaps it is better to feed our people like chickens, a little 
and often, than to cram them like turkeys, till they cannot 
hold one gobbet more. Besides, overlong sermons break 
in upon family concerns, and often call off the thoughts 
from the sermon to the pudding at home, which is in danger 
of being overboiled. They leave likewise but little time 
for secret or family religion, which are both very good in 
their place, and are entitled to a share in the Lord s Day. 
Upon the preacher they must have a bad effect, and tend 
to wear lu m down before his time : and I have known some, 
by overacting at first, have been constrained to sit still, 
and do little or nothing for months or years afterwards. I 
rather recommend to you the advice of your brother Cantab, 
Hobson the carrier, so to set out, that you may hold out to 
your journey s end. 

Now, if Fame, with her hundred mouths, has brought me 
a false report of you, and you are not guilty of preaching 
either too long or too loud, still I am not willing my remon 
strance may stand for nothing. I desire you will accept it, 
and thank me for it, as a proof of my love to you, and likewise 
of the sincerity of my friendship ; for if I had wished to 
flatter you, I could easily have culled another subject. 

I have one more report to trouble you with, because it 
troubles me ; and, therefore, you must bear a part of my 
burden. Assure me it is false, and I will send you one of 
the handsomest letters I can devise, by way of thanks. It 
is reported, then (but I will not believe it till you say I must) 
that you stand upon your tiptoes, upon the point of being 
whirled out of our vortex, and hurried away, comet-like, 
into the regions of eccentricity : in plain English, that you 


have a hankering to be an itinerant. If this be true, I will 
not be the first to tell it in St. John s College or to publish it 
on the banks of Cam, lest the mathematicians rejoice, and 
the poets triumph. But to be serious, for it is a serious 
subject, let me beg you to deliberate well, and to pray 
earnestly before you take this step. Be afraid of acting 
in your own spirit, or under a wrong impression ; however 
honestly you mean, you may be mistaken. The Lord has 
given you a little charge : be faithful in it, and in His good 
time He will advance you to a greater ; but let His providence 
evidently open the door for you, and be afraid of moving 
one step before the cloud and pillar. I have had my warm 
fits and desires of this sort in my time ; but I have reason 
to be thankful, that I was held in with a strong hand. I 
wish there were more itinerant preachers. If a man has 
grace and zeal, and but little funds, let him go and diffuse 
the substance of a dozen sermons over as many counties ; 
but you have natural and acquired abilities, which qualify 
you for the more difficult, and in my judgment, not less 
important, station of a parochial minister. I wish you to 
be a burning, shining, steady light. You may perhaps 
have less popularity, that is, you will be less exposed to 
the workings of self and the snares of Satan, if you stay 
with us ; but I think you may live in the full exercise of 
your gifts and graces, be more consistent with your voluntary 
engagements, and have more peace of mind, and humble 
intercourse with God, in watching over a flock which He 
has committed to you, than, by forsaking them, to wander 
up and down the earth without a determined scope. 

Thus far I have been more attentive to the utile than 
the duke. I should now return to join you in celebrating 
the praises of poetry, and the other subjects of your letter ; 
but time and paper fail together. Let me hear from you 
soon, or I shall fear I have displeased you, which, fond as I 
am of poetry, would give me more pain than I ever found 
pleasure in reading Alexander s Feast. Indeed I love you ; 
I often measure over the walks we have taken together ; 
and when I come to a favourite stile, or such a favourite 
spot upon the hill top, I am reminded of something that 
passed, and say, or at least think, Hie stetit C- . 

Yours, &c. 




BY your flying letter from London, as well as by 
your more particular answer to my last, I judge that what 
I formerly wrote will answer no other end than to be a 
testimony of my fidelity and friendship. I am ready to 
thirik you were so far determined before you applied to the 
Bishop, as to be rather pleased than disappointed by a 
refusal, which seemed to afford you liberty to preach at 
large. As your testimonium was not countersigned, the 
consequence was no other than might have been expected ; 
yet I have been told (how true I know not), that the Bishop 
would have passed over the informality, if you had not, 
unasked by him, avowed yourself a Methodist. I think, if 
you had been unwilling to throw hindrances in your own 
way, the most perfect simplicity would have required no 
more of you than to have given a plain and honest answer 
to such questions as he might think proper to propose. You 

might have assisted Mr. for a season without being 

in full orders ; and you may still, if you are not resolved at 
all events to push out. He wrote to me about you, and you 
may easily judge what answer I gave. I have heard from 
him a second time, and he laments that he cannot have you. 
I likewise lament that you cannot be with him. I think 
you would have loved him ; and I hoped his acquaintance 
might not have proved unuseful to you. 

If you have not actually passed the Rubicon, if there be 
yet room for deliberation, I once more intreat you to pause 
and consider. In many respects I ought to be willing to 
learn from you ; but in one point I have a little advantage 
of you : I am some years older, both in life and in profes 
sion ; and in this difference of time perhaps I have learned 
something more of the heart, the world, and the devices of 
Satan than you have had opportunity for. I hope I would 
not damp your zeal, but I will pray the Lord to direct it into 
the best channel for permanent usefulness ; I say permanent ; 
I doubt not that you would be useful in the itinerant way ; 
but I more and more observe great inconveniences follow in 
the way. Where you make a gathering of people, others 


will follow you ; and if they all possessed your spirit, 
and had your disinterested views, it might be well. But 
generally an able preacher only so far awakens people to 
a desire to hear, as exposes them to the incursions of various 
winds of doctrine, and the attempts of injudicious pretenders, 
who will resemble you in nothing but your eagerness to post 
from place to place. From such measures in time proceed 
errors, parties, contentions, offences, enthusiasm, spiritual 
pride, and a noisy ostentatious form of godliness, but little 
of that power and life of faith which shows itself by humility, 
meekness, and love. 

A parochial minister, who lives among his people, who 
sees and converses with them frequently, and exemplifies 
his doctrine in their view by his practice, having knowledge 
of their states, trials, growth, and dangers, suits himself 
to their various occasions, and, by the blessing of God, 
builds them up, and brings them forward in faith and 
holiness. He is instrumental in forming their experience ; 
he leads them to a solid, orderly, Scriptural knowledge of 
Divine things. If his name is not in so many mouths as that 
of the itinerant, it is upon the hearts of the people of his 
charge. He lives with them as a father with his children. 
His steady, consistent behaviour silences in some measure 
the clamours of his enemies ; and the Lord opens him doors of 
occasional usefulness in many places, without provoking 
our superiors to discountenance other young men who 
are seeking Orders. 

I now wish I had taken larger paper, for I have not room 
for all I would say. I have no end to serve. I am of no 
party. I wish well to irregulars and itinerants, who love 
and preach the Gospel. I am content that they should 
labour that way who have not talents nor funds to support 
the character and fill up the office of a parochial minister. 
But I think you are qualified for more important service. 
If you had patient faith to wait awhile for the Lord s 
opening, I doubt not but you might yet obtain Priest s 
Orders. We are hasty, like children ; but God often appoints 
us a waiting time. Perhaps it requires as much or more 
grace to wait than to be active ; for it is more trying to 
self. After all, whatever course you take, I shall love you, 
pray for you, and be glad to see you, I am, &c. 





MY DEAR MADAM, July 1764. 

THE complaints you make are inseparable from a 
spiritual acquaintance with our own hearts : I would 
not wish you to be less affected with a sense of indwelling 
sin. It becomes us to be humbled in the dust ; yet our 
grief, though it cannot be too great, may be under a wrong 
direction ; and if it leads us to impatience or distrust, it 
certainly is so. 

Sin is the sickness of the soul, in itself mortal and incurable 
as to any power in Heaven or earth, but that of the Lord 
Jesus only. But He is the great, the infallible Physician. 
Have we the privilege to know His name ? Have we been 
enabled to put ourselves into His hand ? We have then 
no more to do but to attend to His prescriptions, to be satis 
fied with His methods, and to wait His time. It is lawful 
to wish we were well ; it is natural to groan, being burdened ; 
but still He must and will take His own course with us ; 
and, however dissatisfied with ourselves, we ought still to be 
thankful that He has begun His work in us, and to believe 
that He will also make an end. Therefore while we mourn, 
we should likewise rejoice ; we should encourage ourselves 
to expect all that He has promised ; and we should limit 
our expectations by His promises. We are sure, that when 
the Lord delivers us from the guilt and dominion of sin, 
He could with equal ease free us entirely from sin if He 
pleased. The doctrine of sinless perfection is not to be 
rejected as though it were a thing simply impossible in 



itself, for nothing is too hard for the Lord, but because it is 
contrary to that method which He has chosen to proceed 
by. He has appointed that sanctification should be effected, 
and sin mortified, not at once completely, but by little and 
little ; and doubtless He has wise reasons for it. Therefore, 
though we are to desire a growth in grace, we should at the 
same time acquiesce in His appointment, and not be dis 
couraged or despond, because we feel that conflict which 
His word informs us will only terminate with our lives. 

Again, some of the first prayers which the Spirit of God 
teaches us to put up, are for a clearer sense of the sinfulness 
of sin, and our vileness on account of it. Now, if the Lord 
is pleased to answer your prayers in this respect, though it 
will afford you cause enough for humiliation, yet it should 
be received likewise with thankfulness, as a token for good. 
Your heart is not worse than it was formerly, only your 
spiritual knowledge is increased ; and this is no small 
part of the growth in grace which you are thirsting after 
to be truly humbled, and emptied, and made little in your 
own eyes. 

Further, the examples of the saints recorded in Scripture 
prove (and indeed of the saints in general), that the greater 
measure they have had of the grace of God in truth, the more 
conscientious and lively they have been ; and the more they 
have been favoured with assurances of the Divine favour, 
so much the more deep and sensible their perception of 
indwelling sin and infirmity has always been : so it was 
with Job, Isaiah, Daniel, and Paul. It is likewise common 
to overcharge ourselves. Indeed, we cannot think ourselves 
worse than we really are ; yet some things which abate the 
comfort and alacrity of our Christian profession, are rather 
impediments than properly sinful, and will not be imputed 
to us by Him who knows our frame, and remembers that 
we are but dust. Thus, to have an infirm memory, to be 
subject to disordered, irregular, or low spirits, are faults of 
the constitution, in which the will has no share, though they 
are all burdensome and oppressive, and sometimes needlessly 
so, by our charging ourselves with guilt on their account. 
The same may be observed of the unspeakable and fierce 
suggestions of Satan, with which some persons are pestered, 
but which shall be laid to him from whom they proceed, 


and not to them who are troubled and terrified, because 
they are forced to feel them. Lastly, it is by the experience 
of these evils within ourselves, and by feeling our utter 
insufficiency either to perform duty, or to withstand our 
enemies, that the Lord takes occasion to show us the suit 
ableness, the sufficiency, the freeness, the unchangeableness, 
of His power and grace. This is the inference St. Paul 
draws from his complaints, Rom. vii. 25 ; and he learnt 
it upon a trying occasion from the Lord s own mouth, 
2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. 

Let us then, dear Madam, be thankful and cheerful, and 
while we take shame to ourselves, let us glorify God, by 
giving Jesus the honour due to His name. Though we are 
poor, He is rich ; though we are weak, He is strong ; though 
we have nothing, He possesses all things. He suffered for 
us ; He calls us to be conformed to Him in sufferings. He 
conquered in His own person, and He will make each of His 
members more than conquerors in due season. It is good 
to have one eye upon ourselves, but the other should ever 
be fixed on Him who stands in the relation of Saviour, 
Husband, Head, and Shepherd. In Him we have, righteous 
ness, peace, and powe : He can control all that we fear ; 
so that if our path should be through the fire or through 
the water, neither the flood shall drown us, nor the flame 
kindle upon us, and ere long He will cut short our conflicts, 
and say, Come up hither. " Then shall our grateful songs 
abound, and every tear be wiped away." Having such 
promises and assurances, let us lift up our banner in His 
name, and press on through every discouragement. 

With regard to company that has not a savour of the best 
tilings, as it is not your choice, I would advise you (when 
necessary) to bear it as a cross : we cannot suffer by being 
where we ought to be, except through our own impatience ; 
and I have an idea, that when we are providentially called 
amongst such (for something is due to friends and relations, 
whether they walk with us or no), that the hours need not 
be wholly lost ; nothing can pass but may be improved ; the 
most trivial conversation may afford us new views of the 
heart, new confirmation of Scripture, and renew a sense of 
our obligations to distinguishing grace, which has made 
us in any degree to differ. I would wish, when you go among 


your friends, that you do not confine your views to getting 
safe away from them without loss, but entertain a hope that 
you may be sent to do some of them good. You cannot 
tell what effect a word or a look may have, if the Lord is 
pleased to bless it. I think we may humbly hope, that while 
we sincerely desire to please the Lord, and to be guided by 
Him in all things, He will not suffer us to take a journey, or 
hardly to make a short visit, which shall not answer some 
good purpose to ourselves or others, or both. While our 
gay friends affect an air of raillery, the Lord may give you 
a secret witness in their consciences ; and something they 
observe in you, or hear from you, may set them on thinking, 
perhaps after you are gone, or after the first occasion has 
entirely slipped your memory, Eccles. xi. i. For my own 
part, when I consider the power, the freedom of Divine 
grace, and how sovereign the Lord is in the choice of the 
instruments and means by which He is pleased to work, 
I live in hopes from day to day of hearing wonders of this 
sort. I despair of nobody ; and if I sometimes am ready 
to think such or such a person seems more unlikely than 
others to be brought in, I relieve myself by a possibility 
that that very person, and for that very reason, may be the 
first instance. The Lord s thoughts are not like ours ; 
in His love and in His ways there are heights which we cannot 
reach, depths which we cannot fathom, lengths and breadths 
beyond the ken of our feeble sight. Let us then simply 
depend upon Him and do our little best, leaving the event 
in His hand. 

I cannot tell if you know anything of Mrs. - . In 
a letter I received yesterday, she writes thus : " I am at 
present very ill with some disorder in my throat, which 
seems to threaten my life ; but death or life, things present 
or things to come, all things are mine, and I am Christ s, 
and Christ is God s. O glorious privilege ! precious founda 
tion of soul-rest and peace, when all things about us are most 
troublous ! Soon we shall be at home with Christ, where 
sin, sorrow, and death, have no place ; and, in the mean time, 
our Beloved will lead us through the wilderness. How 
safe, how joyous are we, may we be, in the most evil case ! " 
If these should be some of the last notes of this swan, 
I think them worth preserving. May we not with good 


reason say, who would not be a Christian ? The Lord 
grant that you and I, Madam, and yours and mine, may 
be happy in the same assurance, when we shall have death 
and eternity near in view. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR MADAM, Sept., 1764. 

YOUR welfare I rejoice in ; your warfare I understand 
something of. St. Paul describes his own case in few words : 
" Without were fightings, within were fears." Does not 
this comprehend all you would say ? And how are you to 
know experimentally, either your own weakness, or the 
power, wisdom, and grace of God, seasonably and sufficiently 
afforded but by frequent and various trials ? How are the 
graces of patience, resignation, meekness, and faith, to be 
discovered and increased, but by exercise ? The Lord has 
chosen, called, and armed us for the fight ; and shall we 
wish to be excused ? Shall not we rather rejoice that we 
have the honour to appear in such a cause, under such 
a Captain, such a banner, and in such a company ? A 
complete suit of armour is provided, weapons not to be 
resisted, and precious balm to heal us, if haply we receive 
a wound, and precious ointment to revive us when we are 
in danger of fainting. Further, we are assured of the 
victory beforehand ; and O what a crown is prepared for 
every conqueror, which Jesus the righteous Judge, the 
gracious Saviour, shall place upon every faithful head with 
His own hand ! Then let us not be weary and faint, for in 
due season we shall reap. The time is short ; yet a little 
while, and the struggle of indwelling sin, and the contradic 
tion of surrounding sinners, shall be known no more. You 
are blessed, because you hunger and thirst after righteous 
ness ; He whose name is Amen has said you shall be filled. 
To claim the promise, is to make it our own ; yet it is be 
coming us to practise submission and patience, not in 
temporals only, but also in spirituals. We should be 


ashamed and grieved at our slow progress, so far as it is 
properly chargeable to our remissness and miscarriage ; 
yet we must not expect to receive everything at once, but 
wait for a gradual increase ; nor should we forget to be 
thankful for what we may account a littlo, in comparison 
of the much we suppose others have received. A little grace, 
a spark of true love to God, a grain of living faith, though 
small as mustard seed, is worth a thousand worlds. One 
draught of the water of life gives interest in and earnest of 
the whole fountain. It becometh the Lord s people to be 
thankful ; and to acknowledge His goodness in what we 
have received, is the surest as well as the pleasantest method 
of obtaining more. Nor should the grief arising from what 
we know and feel of our own hearts, rob us of the honour, 
comfort, and joy, which the word of God designs us, in 
what is there recorded of the person, offices and grace of 
Jesus, and the relations He is pleased to stand in to His 
people, Psalm xxiii. I ; Isa. liv. 5 ; Cant. v. 16 ; John xv. 
15 ; i John ii. i ; John xv. i ; Jer. xxiii. 5 ; i Cor. i. 30 ; 
Matt. i. 21-23. Give me leave to recommend to your con 
sideration Psa. Ixxxix. 15-18. These verses may be called 
the Believers Triumph : though they are nothing in them 
selves, yet having all in Jesus, they may rejoice in His 
name all the day. The Lord enable us so to do ! The joy 
of the Lord is the strength of His people ; whereas unbelief 
makes our hands hang down, and our knees feeble, dispirits 
ourselves, and discourages others ; and though it steals 
upon us under a semblance of humility, it is indeed the very 
essence of pride. By inward and outward exercises the 
Lord is promoting the best desire of your heart, and answer 
ing your daily prayers. Would you have assurance ? The 
true solid assurance is to be obtained no other way. When 
young Christians are greatly comforted with the Lord s 
love and presence, their doubts and fears are for that season 
at an end. But this is not assurance ; so soon as the Lord 
hides His face, they are troubled, and ready to question the 
very foundation of hope. Assurance grows by repeated 
conflict, by our repeated experimental proof of the Lord s 
power and goodness to save ; when we have been brought 
very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down 
and raised again, have given up all hope, and been suddenly 


snatched from danger, and placed in safety ; and when these 
things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times 
over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and 
l>ower of God, beyond and against appearances ; and this 
trust, when habitual and strong, bears the name of assur 
ance ; for even assurance has degrees. 

You have good reason, Madam, to suppose, that the love 
of the. best Christians to an unseen Saviour is far short of 
what it ought to be. If your heart be like mine, and you 
examine your love to Christ by the warmth and frequency 
of your emotions towards Him, you will often be in a sad 
suspense, whether or no you love Him at all. The best mark 
to judge, and which He has given us for that purpose, is to 
inquire if His word and will have a prevailing, governing 
influence upon our lives and temper. If we love Him, we 
do endeavour to keep His commandments ; and it will 
hold the other way ; if we have a desire to please Him, we 
undoubtedly love Him. Obedience is the best test ; and 
when amidst all our imperfections, we can humbly appeal 
concerning the sincerity of our views, this is a mercy for 
which we ought to be greatly thankful. He that has brought 
us to will, will likewise enable us to do according to His good 
pleasure. I doubt not but the Lord whom you love, and 
on whom you depend, will lead you in a sure way, and estab 
lish and strengthen and settle you in His love and grace. 
Indeed He has done great things for you already. The Lord 
is your Shepherd ; a comprehensive word ! The sheep can 
do nothing for themselves ; the Shepherd must guide, 
guard, feed, heal, recover. Well for us that our Shepherd 
is the Lord Almighty. If His power, care, compassion, 
fulness, were not infinite, the poor sheep would be forsaken, 
starved and worried. But we have a Shepherd full of care, 
full of kindness, full of power, who has said, I will seek that 
which was lost, and bind up that which was broken, and 
bring again that which was driven away, and will strengthen 
that which was sick. How tender are these expressions, 
and how well fulfilled ! His sheep fed in the midst of 
wolves, yet are preserved safe ; for though they see Him not, 
His eyes and His heart are upon them. Do we wonder that 
Daniel was preserved in the lions den ? Why it is a common 
case. Which of God s children have not cause to say, " My 


soul is among lions " ? But the angel of the covenant stops 
their mouths, or only permits them to gape and roar, to 
show their teeth, and what they would do, if they might ; 
but they may not, they shall not bite and tear us at their 
own will. Let us trust Him, and all shall be well. 

As to daily occurrences, it is best to believe that a daily 
portion of comforts and crosses, each one the most suitable 
to our case, is adjusted and appointed by the Hand which 
was once nailed to the cross for us ; that where the path of 
duty and prudence leads, there is the best situation we could 
possibly be in at that juncture. We are not required to 
afflict ourselves immoderately for what it is not in our power 
to prevent, nor should anything that affords occasions for 
mortifying the spirit of self be accounted unnecessary. 

I am, &c. 



I HAVE been some time hoping to hear from you, but 
Mr. - - was here last Saturday, and informed me that you 
were ill, or had been so very lately. This intelligence 
prompted me to write as soon as I could find leisure. I think 
the Lord has seen fit to visit you with much indisposition of 
late ; I say He has seen fit, for all our trials are under His 
immediate direction, and we are never in heaviness without 
a need-be. I trust He does and will give you strength equal 
to your day, and sweeten what would be otherwise bitter, 
with the essence of His precious love. I hope soon to hear 
that you are restored to health, and that you have found 
cause to praise Him for the rod. 

How happy is the state of a believer, to have a sure 
promise that all shall work together for good in the end, 
and in the mean time a sure refuge where to find present 
relief, support, and protection ! How comfortable it is, 
when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, 
and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to Him, 
believing that His eye is upon us, and His ear open to our 


prayers. Under the conduct of such a Shepherd we need 
not fear ; though we are called to pass through fire and 
water, through the valley of the shadow of death, He will 
be with us, and will show Himself mighty on our behalf. 
It seems almost needless to say, that we were very happy in 
the company of - - : the only inconvenience was, that it 
renewed the pain it always gives me to part with them. 
Though the visit was full as long as I could possibly expect, 
it seamed very short. This must be the case while we are 
here : our pleasures are short, interrupted, and mixed with 
troubles : this is not, cannot be our rest. But it will not be 
always the case ; we are travelling to a better world, where 
every evil and imperfection shall cease ; then we shall be 
for ever with the Lord, and with each other. May the 
prospect of this blessed hope set before us, revive our fainting 
spirits, and make us willing to endure hardships as good 
soldiers of Jesus Christ ! Here we must often sow in tears, 
but there we shall reap in joy, and all tears shall be wiped 
from our eyes for ever. I hope the conversation of friends 
whom I so greatly love and honour, afforded me not only 
pleasure but profit ; it left a savour upon my mind, and 
stirred up my languid desires after the Lord. I wish I 
could say the good effect has remained with me to this 
hour : but, alas ! I am a poor creature, and have had many 
causes of humiliation since. But, blessed be God ! amidst 
all my changes I find the foundation stands sure, and I am 
seldom or never left to doubt either of the Lord s love to 
me, or the reality of the desires He has given me towards 
Himself ; though when I measure my love by the degrees 
of its exercise, or the fruits it produceth, I have reason 
to sit down ashamed, as the chief of sinners, and the least of 
all saints. But in Him I have righteousness and peace, and 
in Him I must and will rejoice. 

I would willingly fill up my sheet, but feel a straitness in 
my spirit, and know not what further to say. O for a ray 
of Divine light to set me at liberty, that I might write a few 
lines worth reading, something that might warm my heart 
and comfort yours ! Then the subject must be Jesus ; 
but of Him what can I say that you do not know ? Well, 
though you know Him, you are glad to hear of Him again 
and again. Come, then, magnify the Lord with me, and 


let us exalt His name together. Let us adore Him for His 
love, that love which has a height, and depth, and length, 
and breadth, beyond the grasp of our poor conceptions ; 
a love that moved Him to empty Himself, to take on Him 
the form of a servant, and to be obedient unto death, even 
the death of the cross ; a love that pitied us in our lost 
estate, that found us when we sought Him not, that spoke 
peace to our souls in the day of our distress ; a love that 
bears with all our present weakness, mistakes, backslidings, 
and shortcomings ; a love that is always watchful, always 
ready to guide, to comfort, and to heal ; a love that will not 
be wearied, cannot be conquered, and is incapable of changes ; 
a love that will in the end prevail over all opposition, will 
perfect that which concerns us, and will not leave us till it 
has brought us perfect in holiness and happiness, to rejoice 
in His presence in glory. The love of Christ ! it is the 
wonder, the joy, the song of angels ; and the sense of it 
shed abroad in our hearts makes life pleasant, and death 
welcome. Alas ! what a heart have I, that I love Him 
no better ! But I hope He has given me a desire to make 
Him my all in all, and to account everything loss and dross 
that dares to stand in competition with Him. 

I am, &c. 



I FOUND this morning among my unanswered letters 
one from you, but I hope I left it among them by mistake. 
I am willing, however, to be on the sure side, and would 
rather write twice than be too long silent. I heard of your 
being laid on the bed of affliction, and of the Lord s goodness 
to you there, and of His raising you up again. Blessed be 
His name ! He is all-sufficient and faithful ; and though He 
cause grief, He is sure to show compassion in supporting 
and delivering. Ah ! the evil of our nature is deeply rooted 
and very powerful, or such repeated, continual corrections 
and chastisements would not be necessary ; and were they 

c. 2 A 


not necessary, we should not have them. But such we 
are, and therefore such must be our treatment ; for 
though the Lord loves us with a tenderness beyond what 
the mother feels for her sucking child, yet it is a tenderness 
directed by Infinite Wisdom, and very different from that 
weak indulgence which in parents we call fondness, which 
leads them to comply with their children s desires and 
inclinations, rather than to act with a steady view to their 
true welfare. The Lord loves His children, and is very 
indulgent to them, so far as they can safely bear it, but He 
will not spoil them. Their sin-sickness requires medicines, 
some of which are very unpalatable ; but when the case calls 
for such, no short-sighted entreaties of ours can excuse us 
from taking what He prepares for our good. But every dose 
is prepared by His own hand, and not one is administered 
in vain, nor is repeated any oftener than is needful to answer 
the purposed end. Till then, no other hand can remove 
what He lays upon us ; but when His merciful design is 
answered, He will relieve us Himself, and in the meantime 
He will so moderate the operation, or increase our ability 
to bear, that we shall not be overpowered. It is true, without 
a single exception, that all His paths are mercy and truth to 
them that fear Him. His love is the same when He wounds 
as when He heals, when He takes away, as when He gives : 
we have reason to thank Him for all, but most for the severe. 

I received a letter from you, which mentions dear Mrs. 

s case, a very trying one ; but in this likewise we see 

the Lord s faithfulness. Our own experience, and all that 
we observe of His dealings with others, may convince us 
that we need not be afraid to entrust ourselves and our 
dearest concerns in His hands ; for He can and will make 
everything work for good. 

How little does the world know of that intercourse which 
is carried on between Heaven and earth, what petitions 
are daily presented, and what answers are received, at the 
throne of grace ! O the blessed privilege of prayer ! O the 
wonderful love, care, attention, and power of our great 
Shepherd ! His eye is always upon us ; when our spirits 
are almost overwhelmed within us, He knoweth our path. 
His ear is always open to us ; let who will overlook and dis 
appoint us, He will not. When means and hope fail, when 


everything looks dark upon us, when we seem shut up on 
every side, when we are brought to the lowest ebb, still our 
help is in the name of the Lord who made Heaven and earth. 
To Him all things are possible ; and before the exertion of 
His power, when He is pleased to arise and work, all hin 
drances give way and vanish like a mist before the sun. And 
He can so manifest Himself to the soul, and cause His good 
ness to pass before it, that the hour of affliction shall be 
the golden hour of the greatest consolation. He is the 
fountain of life, strength, grace, and comfort, and of His 
fulness His children receive according to their occasions : 
but this is all hidden from the world : they have no guide 
in prosperity, but hurry on as they are instigated by their 
blinded passions, and are perpetually multiplying mischiefs 
and miseries to themselves ; and in adversity they have 
no resource, but must feel all the evil of affliction, without 
inward support, and without deriving any advantage from it. 
We have therefore cause for continual praise. The Lord has 
given us to know His name, as a resting-place and a hiding- 
place, a sun and a shield. Circumstances and creatures may 
change ; but He will be an unchangeable Friend. The way 
is rough, but He trod it before us, and is now with us in every 
step we take ; and every step brings us nearer to our 
Heavenly Home. Our inheritance is surely reserved for us, 
and we shall be kept for it by His power through faith. 
Our present strength is small, and without a fresh supply 
would be quickly exhausted ; but He has engaged to renew 
it from day to day ; and He will soon appear to wipe all 
tears from our eyes ; and then we shall appear with Him in 

I am very sorry if our friend Mr. appears to be aiming 

to reconcile things that are incompatible. I am, indeed, 
afraid that he has been for some time under a decline ; 
and, as you justly observe, we meet with too many instances 
to teach us, that they who express the warmest zeal at their 
first setting out, do not always prove the most steady and 
thriving afterwards ; yet I am willing to hope in this case 
that he will revive and flourish again. Sometimes the 
Lord permits those whom He loves to wander from Him 
for a season ; and when His time comes to heal their back- 
slidings, they walk more humbly, thankfully and fruitfully 

2A 2 


afterwards, from a sense of His abounding mercy, and the 
knowledge they have by experience acquired of the deceit- 
fulness and ingratitude of their hearts. I hope and pray 
it will be so with him. However, these things for the 
present are grievous ; and usually before the Lord heals 
such breaches, He makes His people sensible, that it is an 
evil and bitter thing to forsake Him when He led them by- 
the way. 

Indeed London is a dangerous and ensnaring place to 
professors. I account myself happy that my lot is cast at 
a distance from it. It appears to me like a sea, wherein 
most are tossed by storms, and many suffer shipwreck. 
In this retired situation, I seem to stand upon a cliff ; and 
while I pity those whom I cannot help, I hug myself in the 
thoughts of being safe upon the shore. Not that we are 
without our trials here ; the evil of our own hearts, and the 
devices of Satan, cut us out work enough : but we are 
happily screened from many things which must be either 
burdensome or hurtful to those who live in the way of 
them ; such as political disputes, winds of doctrine, scandals 
of false professors, parties for and against particular minis 
ters, and fashionable amusements, in some measure 
countenanced by the presence of persons in other respects 
exemplary. In this view, I often think of our dear friend s 
expression, upon a certain occasion, of the difference between 
London and country grace. I hold it in a twofold sense. 
By London grace, when genuine, I understand grace in a 
very advanced degree. The favoured few who are kept 
alive to God, simple-hearted, and spiritually-minded (I 
mean especially in genteel life), in the midst of such snares 
and temptations, appear to me to be the first-rate Christians 
of the land : I adore the power of the Lord in them, and 
compare them to the young men who walked unhurt in the 
midst of the fire. In another sense, the phrase London grace 
conveys no great idea to me. I think there is no place in 
the kingdom where a person may set up for a professor upon 
a smaller stock. If people can abstain from open immor 
alities, if they will fly to all parts of the town to hear 
sermons, if they can talk about the doctrines of the Gospel, 
if they have something to say upon that useless question, 
Who is the best preacher ? if they can attain to a speaking 


acquaintance with some of an acknowledged character, 
then they expect to pass muster. I am afraid there are 
many who, upon no better evidences than these, deceive 
both themselves and others for a course of years. Though 
I feel not in a writing cut to-day, I have almost filled the 
sheet somehow ; and if a line or a word may be a means of 
suggesting a seasonable and comfortable thought to you, 
I have my end. Through mercy we are all pretty well. 
My soul is kept alive, as it were, by miracle. I feel much 
inward warfare ; the enemy thrusts sore at me, that I may 
fall ; and I have abundant experience of the evil and 
deceitfulness of my heart ; but the Lord is gracious, and, 
in the midst of all conflicts, I have a peace springing from 
the knowledge of His power and grace, and the consideration 
that I have been helped to commit myself to Him. 

I am, &c. 



WE are much obliged to you for your late visit ; and 
I am glad to find that the Lord is pleased to give you some 
tokens of His presence when you are with us, because I hope 
it will encourage you to come again. I ought to be very 
thankful that our Christian friends, in general, are not 
wholly disappointed of a blessing when they visit us. 

I hope the Lord will give me an humble sense of what I 
am, and that broken and contrite frame of heart in which 
He delights. This is to me the chief thing. I had rather 
have more of the mind that was in Christ, more of a meek, 
quiet, resigned, peaceful, and loving disposition, than to 
enjoy the greatest measure of sensible comforts, if the 
consequence should be (as perhaps it would) spiritual 
pride, self-sufficiency, and a want of that tenderness to 
others which becomes one who has reason to style himself 
the chief of sinners. I know, indeed, that the proper 
tendency of sensible consolations is to humble ; but I can 
see that, through the depravity of human nature, they have 


not always that effect. And I have been sometimes dis 
gusted with an apparent want of humility, an air of self- 
will and self-importance, in persons of whose sincerity I 
could not at all doubt. It has kept me from envying them 
those pleasant frames with which they have sometimes been 
favoured ; for I believe Satan is never nearer us than at 
some times when we think ourselves nearest the Lord. 

Wljat reason have we to charge our souls in David s 
words, " My soul, wait thou only upon God " ! A great 
stress should be laid upon that word only. We dare not 
entirely shut Him out of our regards, but we are too apt 
to suffer something to share with Him. This evil disposition 
is deeply fixed in our hearts ; and the Lord orders all His 
dispensations towards us with a view to rooting it out ; 
that, being wearied with repeated disappointments, we may 
at length be compelled to betake ourselves to Him alone. 
Why else do we experience so many changes and crosses ? 
Why are we so often in heaviness ? We know that He delights 
in the pleasure and prosperity of His servants ; that He 
does not willingly afflict or grieve His children ; but there 
is a necessity on our parts, in order to teach us that we have 
no stability in ourselves, and that no creature can do us 
good but by His appointment. While the people of Israel 
depended upon Him for food, they gathered up the manna 
every morning in the field ; but when they would hoard it 
up in their houses, that they might have a stock within 
themselves, they had it without His blessing, and it proved 
good for nothing ; it soon bred worms, and grew offensive. 
We may often observe something like this occur, both in 
our temporal and spiritual concerns. The Lord gives us a 
dear friend to our comfort ; but ere long we forget that the 
friend is only the channel of conveyance, and that all the 
comfort is from Himself. To remind us of this, the stream 
is dried up, the friend torn away by death, or removed far 
from us, or perhaps the friendship ceases, and a coolness 
insensibly takes place, we know not how or why : the true 
reason is, that when we rejoiced amiss in our gourd, the Lord 
for our good sent a worm to the root of it. Instances of 
this kind are innumerable ; and the great inference from 
them all, Cease from man, cease from creatures, for wherein 
are they to be accounted of ? My soul, wait thou only, only 


upon the Lord, who is (according to the expressive phrase 
Heb. iv. 13) He with whom we have to do for soul and body, 
for time and eternity. What thanks do we owe, that though 
we have not yet attained perfectly this great lesson, yet we 
are admitted into that school where alone it can be learnt, 
and though we are poor, slow scholars, the great and effectual 
Teacher to whom we have been encouraged and enabled to 
apply, can and will bring us forward ! He communicates, 
not only instructions, but capacities and powers. There 
is none like Him : He can make the blind to see, the deaf 
to hear, and the dumb to speak ; and how great is His 
condescension and patience ! How does He accommodate 
Himself to our weakness, and teach us as we are able to 
bear ! Though all are very dunces when He first receives 
them, not one was ever turned out as incapable, for He makes 
them what He would have them to be. O that we may set 
Him always before us, and consider every dispensation, 
person, thing, we meet in the course of every day, as mes 
sengers from Him, each bringing us some line of instruction 
for us to copy into that day s experience ! Whatever 
passes within us or around us, may be improved (when He 
teaches us how) as a perpetual commentary upon His good 
Word. If we converse and observe with this view, we may 
learn something every moment, wherever the path of duty 
leads us, in the streets as well as in the closet, and from 
the conversation of those who know not God (when we 
cannot avoid being present at it), as well as from those 
who do. 

Separation of dear friends is, as you observed, hard to 
flesh and blood ; but grace can make it tolerable. I have 
an abiding persuasion, that the Lord can easily give more 
than ever He will take away. Which part of the alternative 
must be my lot, or when, He only knows ; but, in general, 
I can rely on Him to appoint the time, the manner ; and I 
trust His promise of strength suited to the day, shall be 
made good. Therefore, I can for the most part rejoice, that 
all things are in the hand and under the direction of Him 
who knows our frame, and has Himself borne our griefs, 
and carried our sorrows in His own body. A time of 
weeping must come, but the morning of joy will make 
amends for all. Who can expound the meaning of that 


one expression, " an exceeding and eternal weight of glory " ? 
The case of unconverted friends is still more burdensome 
to think of ; but we have encouragement and warrant to 
pray and to hope. He who called MS, can easily call others : 
and He seldom lays a desire of this sort very closely and 
warmly upon the hearts of His people, but when it is His 
gracious design, sooner or later, to give an answer of peace. 
However, it becomes us to be thankful for ourselves, and 
to bow our anxieties and reasonings before His sovereign 
will, who doth as He pleases with His own. 

Methinks winter is your summer. You have been, like 
the bee, collecting from many flowers ; I hope you will 
carry good store of honey home with you. May you find 
the Lord there, and He can easily supply the failure of means 
and creatures ! \Ve cannot be in any place to so much 
advantage as where the call of duty leads. \Yhat we cannot 
avoid, may we cheerfully submit to, and not indulge a vain 
thought that we should choose a better situation for our 
selves (all things considered) than He has chosen for us. 

\\hen we have opportunity of enjoying many ordinances, 
it is a mercy to be able to prize and improve them ; but 
when He cuts us short for a season, if we wait upon Him 
we shall do well without them. Secret prayer, and the 
good Word, are the chief wells from whence we draw the 
water of salvation. These will keep the soul alive when 
creature streams are cut off ; but the richest variety of 
public means, and the closest attendance upon them, will 
leave us lean and pining in the midst of plenty, if we are 
remiss and formal in the other two. I think David never 
appears in a more lively frame of mind than when he wrote 
the 42nd, 63rd, and 84th Psalms, which were all penned in 
a dry land, and at a distance from the public ordinances. 

I am, &c. 




I HAD been wishing to hear from you, that I might 
know where to write. I hope I can assure you of a friendly 
sympathy with you in your trials. I can, in some measure, 
guess at what you feel, from what I have seen and felt 
myself in cases where I have been nearly concerned. But 
my compassion, though sincere, is ineffectual : if I can 
pity, I cannot relieve. All I can do is, as the Lord enables 
me, to remember you both before Him. But there is One 
whose compassion is infinite. The love and tenderness of 
ten thousand earthly friends, of ten thousand mothers 
towards their sucklings, if compared with His, are less than 
a drop of water to the ocean ; and His power is infinite 
too. Why, then, do our sufferings continue, when He is so 
compassionate, and could remove them with a word ? Surely, 
if we cannot give the particular reasons (which yet He will 
acquaint us with hereafter, John xiii. 7), the general reason 
is at hand; He afflicts not for His own pleasure, but for 
our profit ; to make us partakers of His holiness ; and 
because He loves us. 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, 

But trust Him for His grace ; 
Behind a frowning providence 

He hides a smiling face. 

I wish you much comfort from David s thought, Psa. 
cxlii. 3 : " When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, 
Thou knewest my path." The Lord is not withdrawn to a 
great distance, but His eye is upon you, and He sees you not 
with the indifference of a mere spectator, but He observes 
with attention : He knows, He considers your path ; yea, 
He appoints it, and every circumstance about it is under 
His direction. Your trouble began at the hour He saw best ; 
it could not come before, and He has marked the degree of 
it to a hair s breadth and the duration to a minute. He 
knows likewise how your spirit is affected ; and such supplies 
of grace ^and strength, and in such seasons as He sees needful, 
He will afford. So that when things appear darkest, you 


shall still be able to say, " Though chastened, not killed." 
Therefore hope in God, for you shall yet praise Him. 

I shall pray that the Bath waters may be beneficial ; 
and that the waters of the sanctuary there may be healing 
and enlivening to you all. Our all-sufficient God can give 
seasons of refreshment in the darkest hours, and break 
through the thickest clouds of outward affliction or distress. 
To you it is given, not only to believe in Jesus, but to suffer 
for Mis sake : for so we do, not only when we are called to 
follow Him to imprisonment or death, but when He enables 
us to bear afflictive dispensations with due submission and 
patience. Then He is glorified ; then His grace and power 
are manifested in us. The world, so far as they know our 
case, have a proof before them, that our religion is not 
merely notional, but that there is a power and reality in it. 
And the Lord s people are encouraged by what they see of 
His faithfulness to ourselves. And there are more eyes 
upon us still. We are a spectacle, to the universe, to angels 
as well as to men. Cheer up : the Lord hath put you in 
your present trying situation, that you may have the fairer 
opportunity of adorning your profession of the Gospel ; 
and though you suffer much, He is able to make you abund 
ant amends. Nor need I remind you, that He has suffered 
unspeakably more for you : He drank for your sake a cup of 
unmixed wrath, and only puts in your hand a cup of affliction 
mixed with many mercies. 

The account you gave of the poor man detained in the 
inn was very affecting. Such scenes are or should be 
instructive, to teach us resignation under the trials we must 
meet with every day. For not only are we visited less than 
our iniquities have deserved, but much less than many of 
our fellow-creatures daily experience. \Vc need not look 
about far or long to find others in a worse situation than 
ourselves. If a fit of the gout or cholic is so grievous and 
so hard to bear, what do we owe to Him who delivered 
us from that place of unutterable torment, where there is 
weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth for ever, without 
hope or respite ! And if we cannot help interesting ourselves 
in the groans of a stranger, how ought the groans of Jesus 
to be, as it were, continually sounding in our ears ! \\ hat 
are all other sufferings compared to His ? And yet He 


endured them freely. He needed not to have borne them 
if He would have left us to perish ; but such was His love, 
He died that we might live, and endured the fiercest agonies, 
that He might open to us the gate of everlasting peace and 
happiness. How amazingly perverse is my heart, that I 
can be more affected with a melancholy story in a news 
paper, concerning persons I never saw, than with all that I 
read of His bitter passion in the garden and on the cross, 
though I profess to believe He endured it all for me. O ! 
if we could always behold Him by faith, as evidently 
crucified before our eyes, how would it compose our spirits 
as to all the sweets and bitters of this poor life ! What a 
banner would it prove against all the snares and temptations 
whereby Satan would draw us into evil : and what a firm 
ground of confidence would it afford us amidst the conflicts 
we sustain from the working of unbelief and indwelling 
sin ! I long for more of that faith which is the substance of 
things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, that 
I may be preserved humble, thankful, watchful, and depend 
ent. To behold the glory and the love of Jesus, is the only 
effectual way to participate in His image. 

We are to set out to-night from the Interpreter s house 
towards the hill Difficulty, and hope to be favoured with a 
sight of the cross by the way. To stand at the foot of it 
with a softened heart and melting eyes ; to forget our sins, 
sorrows, and burdens, while we are wholly swallowed up 
in the contemplation of Him who bore our sins in His own 
body upon the tree, is certainly the most desirable situation 
on this side the grave. To speak of it, and to see it by the 
light of the Spirit, are widely different things ; and though 
we cannot always enjoy this view, yet the remembrance of 
what we have been, is an excellent means of encouragement 
to mount the hill and face the lions. 

I believe I shall hardly find leisure to fill my paper this 
time. It is now Saturday evening, and growing late. I 
am just returned from a serious walk, which is my usual 
manner of closing the week when the weather is fine. I 
endeavour to join in heart with the Lord s ministers and 
people, who are seeking a blessing on to-morrow s ordin 
ances. At such times I especially remember those friends 
with whom I have gone to the House of the Lord in company, 


consequently you are not forgot. I can venture to assure 
you, that if you have a value for our prayers you have a 
frequent share in them ; yea, are loved and remembered 
by many here : but as we are forgetful creatures, I hope 
you will always refresh our memory, and quicken our 
prayers by a yearly visit. In the morning I shall think of 
you again. What a multitude of eyes and hearts will be 
directed to our Redeemer to-morrow ! He has a numerous 
and necessitous family ; but He is rich enough to supply 
them all, and His tender compassion extends to the meanest 
and most unworthy. Like the sun, He can cheer and 
enlighten thousands and millions at once, and give to each 
one as bountifully as if there were no more to partake of 
His favour. His best blessings are not diminished by being 
shared among many. The greatest earthly monarch would 
soon be poor if he was to give a little (though but a little) 
to all his subjects : but Jesus has unsearchable, inexhaustible 
riches of grace to bestow. The innumerable assembly before 
the throne have been all supplied from His fulness, and yet 
there is enough and to spare for us also, and for all that shall 
come after us. May He give us an eager appetite, an hunger 
and thirst that will not be put off with anything short of the 
bread of life ; and then we may confidently open our 
mouths wide, for He has promised to fill them. 

I am, &c. 



SINCE I wrote last, the Lord has been gracious to us 
here. He crowned the last year with His goodness, and 
renews His benefits to us every day. He has been pleased 
to bless the preaching of His Gospel amongst us, both to 
consolation and conviction ; and several are, I hope, earnestly 
seeking Him, who were lately dead in trespasses and sins. 

Dear Mr. was released from all his complaints the 

25th of November. A few days before his death, he was 
enabled to speak more intelligibly than usual for about a 


quarter of an hour, and expressed a comfortable hope, which 
was a great satisfaction to us ; for though we had not the 
least doubt of his being built upon the Rock, it was to us an 
answer to prayer that he could again speak the language of 
faith ; and much prayer had been made on this account, 
especially that very evening. After that night he spoke 
little, and hardly took any notice, but continued chiefly 
drowsy till he died. I preached his funeral sermon, from 

Lam. iii. 31, 32, 33. Mrs. L s complaint grows worse 

and worse : she suffers much in her body, and has much 
more perhaps to suffer ; but her consolations in the Lord 
abound. He enables her to maintain faith, patience, and 
submission, in an exemplary manner, and shows us in His 
dealings with her, that He is all-sufficient and faithful to 
those who put their trust in Him. I am glad to hear that 
you had comfortable seasons while at Bath. It is indeed 
a great mercy that God s ordinances are established in that 
place of dissipation ; and I hope many who go there with 
no higher view than to drink the Bath waters, will be brought 
to draw with joy the waters of life from the wells of salvation. 
He does nothing in vain, and when He affords the means, 
we may confidently hope He will bestow the blessing. The 
dissipation of spirit you complain of when you are in a 
strange place is, I suppose, felt by most, if not by all, who 
can be satisfied in no place without some token of the Lord s 
presence. I consider it rather as an infirmity than a sin, 
strictly speaking ; though all our infirmities are sinful, 
being the effects of a depraved nature. In our present cir 
cumstances, new things excite new ideas ; and when our 
usual course of life is broken in upon, it disjoints and 
unsettles our thoughts. It is a proof of our weakness ; 
it may and ought to be lamented ; but I believe we shall not 
get the better of it, till we leave the mortal body to moulder 
into dust. Perhaps few suffer more inconvenience from 
this article than myself, which is one reason why I love home, 
and seldom leave it without some reluctance ; and it is one 
reason why we should love Heaven, and long for the hour 
when, at liberty from all incumbrance, we shall see the Lord 
without a veil, and serve Him without distraction. The 
Lord, by His providence, seconds and confirms the declara 
tions of His word and ministry. Much we read, and much 


we hear, concerning the emptiness, vanity, and uncertainty 
of the present state. When our minds are enlightened by 
His Holy Spirit, we receive and acknowledge what His word 
declares to be truth ; yet if we remain long without changes, 
and our path is very smooth, we are for the most part but 
faintly affected with what we profess to believe. But when 
some of our dearest friends are taken from us, the lives of 
others threatened, and we ourselves are brought low with 
pain and sickness, then we not only say, but feel, that this 
must not, cannot be our rest. You have had several 
exercises of this kind of late in your family, and I trust you 
will be able to set your seal to that gracious word, that 
though afflictions in themselves are not joyous, but grievous, 
yet in due season they yield the peaceable fruits of right 
eousness. Various and blessed are the fruits they produce. 
By affliction, prayer is quickened ; for our prayers are very 
apt to grow languid and formal in a time of ease. Affliction 
greatly helps us to understand the Scriptures, especially 
the promises, most of which being made to times of trouble, 
we cannot so well know their fulness, sweetness, and cer 
tainty, as when we have been in the situation to which they 
are suited, have been enabled to trust and plead them, and 
have found them fulfilled in our own case. We are usually 
indebted to affliction as the means or occasion of the most 
signal discoveries we are favoured with, of the wisdom, 
power, and faithfulness of the Lord. These are best 
observed by the evident proofs we have that He is near to 
support us under trouble, and that He can and does deliver 
us out of it. Israel would not have seen so much of the 
Lord s arm outstretched in their behalf, had not Pharaoh 
oppressed, opposed, and pursued them. Afflictions are 
designed likewise for the manifestation of our sincerity, 
to ourselves and to others. When faith endures the fire, we 
kno it to be of the right kind ; and others who see we are 
brought safe out, and lose nothing but the dross, will confess 
that God is >w ith us of a truth (Dan. iii. 27, 28). Surely this 
thought should reconcile us to surfer, not only with patience, 
but with cheer^ umess > if God may be glorified in us. This 
made the aposti- e rejoice in tribulation, that the power of 
Christ might be tfpticed, as resting upon him, and working 
mightily in him. Many of our graces, likewise, cannot thrive 


or show themselves to advantage without trials, such as 
resignation, patience, meekness, long-suffering. I observe 
some of the London porters do not appear to be very strong 
men ; yet they will trudge along under a burden which some 
stouter people could not carry so well ; the reason is, 
that they are accustomed to carry burdens, and by continual 
exercise their shoulders acquire a strength suited to their 
work. It is so in the Christian life ; activity and strength 
of grace is not ordinarily acquired by those who sit still and 
live at ease, but by those who frequently meet with something 
which requires a full exertion of what power the Lord has 
given them. So, again, it is by our own sufferings we learn 
to pity and sympathize with others in their sufferings ; 
such a compassionate disposition, which excites our feelings 
for the afflicted, is an eminent branch of the mind which was 
in Christ. But these feelings would be very faint if we did 
not in our experience know what sorrows and temptations 
mean. Afflictions do us good likewise, as they make us 
more acquainted with what is in our own hearts, and thereby 
promote humiliation and self-abasement. There are abomi 
nations which, like nests of vipers, lie so quietly within, 
that we hardly suspect they are there till the rod of affliction 
rouses them ; then they hiss and show their venom. This 
discovery is indeed very distressing ; yet, till it is made, we 
are prone to think ourselves much less vile than we really 
are, and cannot so heartily abhor ourselves, and repent in 
dust and ashes. 

But I must write a sermon rather than a letter, if I would 
enumerate all the good fruits which, by the power of 
sanctifying grace, are produced from this bitter tree. May 
we, under our several trials, find them all revealed in our 
selves, that we may not complain of having suffered in 
vain ! While we have such a depraved nature, and live in 
such a polluted world ; while the roots of pride, vanity, 
self-dependence, self-seeking, are so strong within us, we 
need a variety of sharp dispensations to keep us from 
forgetting ourselves, and from cleaving to the dust. 




-THE very painful illness wliich Mrs. so long 

endured, had doubtless not only prepared you to expect the 
news of her dismission, but made you more willing to resign 
her. You are bereaved of a valuable friend ; but life, 
in her circumstances, was burdensome : and who can be 
sorry to consider her now as freed from all suffering, and 
possessed of all happiness ? But besides this, I trust the 
Lord has favoured you with an habitual sense of the wisdom 
and propriety of all his appointments ; so that, when His 
will is manifested by the event, you are enabled to say, 
" All is well." " I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, 
because Thou didst it." She is gone a little before you ; 
and after a few more changes, you will meet her again to 
unspeakable advantage, and rejoice together before the 
throne for ever. There every tear will be wiped away, 
and you shall weep no more. The Lord could have prevented 
the cause of her great sufferings ; but I doubt not He 
afflicted her in wisdom and mercy : He could easily have 
restored her to health ; but the time was hastening when 
He purposed to have her with Him where He is, that she 
might behold His glory, and have all the desires He put into 
her heart abundantly satisfied. Precious in His sight is the 
death of His saints, and every circumstance is under the 
direction of infinite wisdom. His sovereignty forbids us 
to say, Why hast Thou done this ? And His love assures 
us that He does all things well. I have lost a friend likewise ; 
I believe I may say, few persons not immediately related to 
her could value her more highly than myself : and though 
of late years I could not have the pleasure of her company, 
it was a constant satisfaction to me to know I had such a 

Mr. T. - s sickness and death followed immediately 
upon this stroke. I doubt not but you have been much 
affected with this dispensation likewise. But here again we 
have the same stronghold to retreat to : the Lord has done 
it. What a pleasing prospect of increasing usefulness is 
now interrupted ! How many will mourn his loss ! Yet we 


are sure the work which the Lord had appointed him was 
finished. They who loved his ministry, and were profited 
by it, are left apparently destitute ; but Jesus, the good 
Shepherd, is able to take care of His own, and will fulfil His 
promise to them all. He has said, Verily they shall be fed. 

We have had trying and dying times here ; half my 
time almost has been taken up with visiting the sick. I have 
seen death in a variety of forms, and have had frequent 
occasion of observing how insignificant many things, which 
are now capable of giving us pain or pleasure, will appear, 
when the soul is brought near to the borders of eternity. 
All the concerns which relate solely to this life will then be 
found as trivial as the traces of a dream from which we are 
awakened. Nothing will then comfort us but the knowledge 
of Jesus and His love ; nothing grieve us but the remem 
brance of our unfaithful carriage to Him, and what poor 
returns we made to His abundant goodness. The Lord 
forbid that this thought should break our peace ! No, faith 
in His name may forbid our fear, though we shall see and 
confess we have been unprofitable servants. There shall be 
no condemnation to them that are in Him ; but surely 
shame and humiliation will accompany us to the very 
threshold of Heaven, and ought to do so. I surely shall 
then be more affected than I am now, with the coolness of 
my love, the faintness of my zeal, the vanity of my heart, 
and my undue attachment to the things of time. O these 
clogs, fetters, vales, and mountains, which obstruct my 
course, darken my views, slacken my pace, and disable me 
in service ! Well it is for me that I am not under the law, 
but under grace. 

To-morrow is the Sabbath. I am usually glad when it 
returns, though it seldom finds me in that frame of mind 
which I would desire. But it is my happiness to live 
amongst many who count the hours from one ordinance to 
another. I know they pray that I may be a messenger of 
peace, and an instrument of good to their souls ; and I have 
cause to hope their prayers are in a measure answered. 
For their sakes, as much as my own, I am glad to go up to the 
house of the Lord. O that in watering others, I may be also 
watered myself ! I have been praying that to-morrow 
may be a day of power with you and with us, and with all 
c. 2B 


that love Jesus in sincerity ; that we may see His glory, 
and taste His love in the sanctuary. When it is thus the 
Sabbath is a blessed day indeed, an earnest of Heaven. 
There they keep an everlasting Sabbath, and cease not 
night or day admiring the riches of redeeming love, and 
adoring Him who washed His people from their sins in His 
own blood. To have such imperfect communion with them 
as is in this state attainable in this pleasing exercise, is what 
alone can make life worth the name. For this I sigh and 
long, and cry to the Lord to rend the veil of unbelief, scatter 
the clouds of ignorance, and break down the walls which sin 
is daily building up to hide Him from my eyes. I hope I 
can say, My soul is athirst for God, and nothing less than the 
light of His countenance can satisfy me. Blessed be His 
name for the desire ; it is His own gift, and He never gives 
it in vain. He will afford us a taste of the water of life by the 
way ; and ere long we shall drink abundantly at the fountain- 
head, and have done with the complaint for ever. May we 
be thankful for what we receive, and still earnestly desirous 
of more ! 

I am, &c. 





MY DEAR Miss, Aug. 1772. 

THE Lord brought us home in peace. My visit to 

was agreeable, and I shall often think of it with pleasure ; 
though the deadness and dryness of my own spirit, a good 
part of the time I was there, proved a considerable abate 
ment. I am eager enough to converse with the Lord s 
people, when at the same time I am backward and indisposed 
to communion with the Lord Himself. The two evils 
charged upon Israel of old, a proneness to forsake the 
fountain of living waters, and to trust to broken cisterns 
(which can do me no good unless He supplies them), run 
through the whole of my experience abroad and at home. 
A few drops of grace in my fellow-worms endear them to me 
exceedingly. If I expect to see any Christian friends, I 
count the hours till we meet ; I promise myself great 
benefit ; but if the Lord withdraws His influence, the best 
of them prove to me but clouds without water. It was not, 
however, wholly so with me all the time I stayed with my 
friends ; but I suffer much in learning to depend upon the 
Lord alone : I have been at this lesson many a long year ; 
but am so poor and dull a scholar, that I have not yet made 
any tolerable progress in it. I think I received some 
instruction and advantage, where I little expected it ; 
I mean at Mr. Cox s museum. The efforts of his ingenuity 
amazed me, while, at the same time, I was struck with their 
insignificance. His fine things were beyond all I had any idea 

387 2 B 2 


of ; and yet, what are they better than toys and amuse 
ments suited to the taste of children ! And notwith 
standing the variety of their motions, they were all destitute 
of life. There is unspeakably more wisdom and contrivance 
in the mechanism of a butterfly or a bee that flies unnoticed 
in the fields, than in all his apparatus put together. But the 
works of God are disregarded, while the feeble imitations of 
them which men can produce gain universal applause. 

If you and I could make self-moving dragons and elephants 
what would it profit us ? Blessed be God, that He has 
given us some glimpse of his wisdom and love ! by which our 
hearts, more hard and lifeless by nature than the stones in 
the street, are constrained and enabled to move upwards, 
and to seek after the Lord. He has given us in His Word 
a greater treasure than all that we ever beheld with our eyes, 
and a hope which shall flourish when the earth and all its 
works shall be burnt up. What will all the fine things of 
men s device be worth in that day ! 

I think the passage you refer to in Mr. justly 

exceptionable. His intention is good, and the mistake 
he would censure very dangerous ; but he might have 
explained himself more clearly. I apprehend he and you 
do not mean the same thing by being in the dark. It is not 
an uncomfortable, but a careless, frame which he would 
censure. They who walk in darkness and see no light, and 
yet are exhorted to stay themselves upon God (Isa. 1. 10), 
are said to hearken to the voice of His servant. Though 
they cannot see the Lord, they are seeking and mourning 
after Him, and waiting in the use of means, and warring 
against sin. Mr. - - had another set of people in view, 
who trust in the notion of Gospel-truth, or some past 
convictions and comforts ; though at present they give 
no evidence of spiritual desires, but are worldly in their 
spirit and conversation ; talk of trusting in the Lord ; 
account it a weakness to doubt of their state, and think all 
is well because they profess to believe the doctrines of grace. 
In a word, it is the darkness of sin and sloth, against which 
his observation is pointed. Or if, indeed, he meant more 
than this, we are not obliged to believe him. Remember 
your privilege ; you have the Bible in your hands, and are 
not bound to follow books or preachers any farther than 


what they deliver agrees with the oracles of truth. We have 
great reason to be thankful for the instructions and writings 
of spiritual men, but they are all fallible even as ourselves. 
One is our Master, even Christ ; what He says, we are to 
receive implicitly ; but we do not owe implicit subjection 
to the best of our fellow-creatures. The Bereans were 
commended that they would not take even the apostle Paul 
upon trust, but searched the Scriptures to see whether these 
things were so. May the Lord give us a spirit of humility 
and discernment in all things ! 

I am, &c. 


May 4, 1773. 

METHINKS it is high time to ask how you do, to thank 
you for your last letter, and to let you know, that though 
necessity makes me slack in writing, yet I can and do often 
think of you. My silence has sometimes been owing to want 
of leisure ; and sometimes, when I could have found leisure, 
my harp has been out of tune, and I had no heart to write. 
Perhaps you are ready to infer, by my sitting down to write 
at last, that my harp is now well tuned, and I have something 
extraordinary to offer ; beware of thinking so, lest you should 
be sadly disappointed. Should I make myself the subject, 
I could give you at present but a mournful ditty. I suppose 
you have heard I have been ill ; through mercy I am now 
well. But, indeed, I must farther tell you, that when I was 
sick I was well : and since the^Lord has removed my illness 
I have been much worse. My illness was far from violent 
in itself, and was greatly sweetened by a calm submissive 
frame the Lord gave me under it. My heart seemed more 
alive to Him then than it has done since my cough, fever, 
and deafness have been removed. Shall I give you another 
bit of a riddle, that notwithstanding the many changes 
I pass through, I am always the same ? This is the very 
truth : " In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good 
thing " ; so that, if sometimes my spirit is in a measure 


humble, lively, and dependent, it is not that I am grown 
better than I was, but that the Lord is pleased to put forth 
His gracious power in my weakness : and when my heart 
is dry and stupid, when I can find no pleasure in waiting 
upon God, it is not because I am worse than I was before, 
but only the Lord sees it best that I should feel as well 
as say what a poor creature I am. My heart was once 
like a dungeon, out of the reach of day, and always dark ; 
the Lord, by His grace, has been pleased to make this 
dungeon a room, by putting windows in it ; but I need not 
tell you, that though windows will transmit the daylight 
into a room, they cannot supply the want of it. When the 
day is gone, windows are of little use ; when the day returns, 
the room is enlightened by them again. Thus, unless the 
Lord shines, I cannot retain to-day the light I had yesterday ; 
and though His presence makes a delightful difference, 
I have no more to boast of in myself at one time than 
another ; yet when it is dark, I am warranted to expect 
the return of light again. When He is with me, all goes 
on pleasantly ; when He withdraws, I find I can do nothing 
without Him. I need not wonder that I find it so, for it 
must be so, of course, if I am what I confess myself to be, 
a poor, helpless, sinful creature in myself. Nor need I be 
overmuch discouraged, since the Lord has promised to help 
those who can do nothing without Him, not those who can 
make a tolerable shift to help themselves. Through mercy 
He does not so totally withdraw, as to leave me without 
any power or will to cry for His return. I hope He maintains 
in me at all times a desire of His presence ; yet it becomes 
me to wait for Him with patience, and to live upon His 
faithfulness, when I can feel nothing but evil in myself. 

In your letter, after having complained of your inability, 
you say, you converse with many who find it otherwise, 
who can go whenever they will to the Father of mercies with 
a child-like confidence, and never return without an answer 
an answer of peace. If they only mean that they are 
favoured with an established faith, and can see that the 
Lord is always the same, and that their right to the blessings 
of the covenant is not at all affected by their unworthiness, 
I wish you and I had more experience of the same privilege. 
In general, the Lord helps me to aim at it, though I find it 


sometimes difficult to hold fast my confidence. But if they 
speak absolutely with respect to their frames, that they not 
only have something to support them under their changes, 
but meet with no changes that require such support, I must 
say it is well that they do not live here ; if they did, they 
would not know how to pity us, and we should not know how 
to understand them. We have an enemy at - - that fights 
against our peace, and I know not one amongst us but often 
groans under the warfare. I advise you not to be troubled 
by what you hear of other folks experience, but keep close 
to the written word, where you will meet with much to 
encourage you, though you often feel yourself weary and 
heavy laden. For my own part, I like that path best which 
is well beaten by the footsteps of the flock, though it is not 
always pleasant and strewed with flowers. In our way, 
we find some hills, from whence we can cheerfully look about 
us ; but we meet with deep valleys likewise, and seldom 
travel long upon even ground. 

I am, &c. 



I AM satisfied with your answer to my question : we 
are not proper judges of each other s circumstances, and I 
am in some measure weaned from judging hastily, that what 
would not be convenient for me must therefore necessarily 
be wrong for another. However, my solicitude for your 
welfare made me venture to drop a hint, as I was persuaded 
you would take it in good part. Indeed, all situations 
and circumstances (supposing them not sinful in themselves, 
and that we are lawfully placed in them) are nearly alike. 
In London I am in a crowd, in the country I am sure there 
is a crowd in me. To what purpose do I boast of retirement, 
when I am pestered by a legion in every place ? How often, 
when I am what I call alone, may my mind be compared 
to a puppet-show, a fair, a Newgate, or any of those scenes 
where folly, noise, and wickedness most abound ! On the 


contrary, sometimes I have enjoyed sweet recollection and 
composure where I could have hardly expected it. But 
still, though the power be all of the Lord, and we of ourselves 
can do nothing, it is both our duty and our wisdom to be 
attentive to the use of appointed means on the one hand, 
and on the other, watchful against those things which we 
find by experience have a tendency to damp our fervour 
or to dissipate our spirits. A comfortable intimacy with a 
fellow-worm cannot be maintained without a certain delicacy 
and .circumspection, a studiousness in improving oppor 
tunities of pleasing, and in avoiding what is known to be 
offensive. For though love will make large allowances 
for involuntary mistakes, it cannot easily brook a slight. 
We act thus as it were by instinct towards those whom we 
dearly love, and to whom we feel ourselves greatly obliged : 
and happy are they who are most influenced by this senti 
ment in their walk before the Lord. But, alas ! here we are 
chargeable with such inconsistencies as we should be greatly 
ashamed of in a common life. And well it is for us that the 
Lord s thoughts and ways are above ours, and that He is 
infinite in mercy as well as in power ; for surely our dearest 
friends would have been weary of us, and have renounced 
us long ago, had we behaved to them as we have too often 
done to Him. He is God, and not man, and therefore He 
still waits to be gracious, though we have so often trifled with 
Him. Surely we may well say with the prophet, " Who is 
a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity ? " His 
tenderness and forbearance towards His own people (whose 
sins being committed against love, and light, and experience, 
are more aggravated than others) is astonishing indeed. 
But, oh ! may the times past suffice to have grieved His 
Spirit, and may we be enabled from henceforth to serve 
Him with a single eye and a simple heart, to be faithful 
to every intimation of His will, and to make Him our all 
in all! 

Mr. - - has been here, and I have been with him at 

since his return. We seem glad to be together when we 
can. When I am with him I feel quite at home and at ease, 
and can tell him (so far as I dare tell a creature) all that 
is in my heart : a plain proof that union of spirit depends 
no more upon an exact uniformity of sentiment than on a 


uniformity of prayers ; for in some points of doctrine we 
differ considerably ; but I trust I agree with him in the views 
I have of the excellency, suitableness, and sufficiency of 
the Saviour, and of His right to reign without a rival in the 
hearts of His redeemed people. An experimental knowledge 
of Jesus as the deliverer from sin and wrath, and the author 
of eternal life and salvation to all who are enabled to believe, 
is sufficient ground for a union of heart ; in this point all 
who are taught of God are of one mind. But an eager 
fighting for or against those points which are usually made 
the subjects of controversy, tends to nourish pride and evil 
tempers in ourselves, and to alienate our hearts from those 
we hope to spend an eternity with. In Heaven we shall 
neither be Dissenters, Moravians, nor Methodists; neither 
Calvinists nor Arminians ; but followers of the Lamb, and 
children of the kingdom. There we shall hear the voice of 
war no more. 

We are still favoured with health and many temporal 
blessings. My spiritual walk is not so smooth as my outward 
path ; in public I am mercifully supported, in secret I most 
sensibly feel my own vileness and weakness ; but through 
all the Lord is gracious. 

I am, &c. 


Jan. 10, 1775. 

THERE is hardly anything in which the Lord permits 
me to meet with more disappointment than in the ad 
vantage I am ready to promise myself from creature con 
verse. When I expect to meet any of my Christian friends, 
my thoughts usually travel much faster than my body. I 
anticipate the hour of meeting, and my imagination is 
warmed with expectation of what I shall say and what I 
shall hear : and sometimes I have had seasons for which 
I ought to be more thankful than I am. It is pleasant 
indeed when the Lord favours us with a happy hour, and is 
pleased to cause our hearts to burn within us while we are 


speaking of His goodness. But often it is far otherwise 
with me : I carry with me a dissipation of spirit, and find 
that I can neither impart nor receive. Something from 
within or from without crosses my schemes ; and when I 
retire, I seem to have gained nothing but a fresh conviction, 
that we can neither help nor be helped, unless the Lord 
Himself is pleased to help us. With His presence in our 
hearts we might be comfortable and happy if shut up in one 
of the cells of Newgate ; without it, the most select company, 
the most desirable opportunities, prove but clouds without 

I have sometimes thought of asking you whether you find 
that difference between being abroad and at home that I 
do ? But I take it for granted that you do not ; your con 
nexions and intimacies are, I believe, chiefly with those who 
are highly favoured of the Lord, and if you can break through 
or be upon your guard against the inconveniences which 
attend frequent changes and much company, you must be 
very happy in them. But, I believe, considering my weak 
ness, the Lord has chosen wisely and well for me, in placing 
me in a state of retirement, and not putting it in my power 
were it ever so much my inclination, to be often abroad. As 
I stir so seldom, I believe when I do, it is not upon the whole 
to my disadvantage ; for I meet with more or less upon 
which my reflections afterwards may, by His blessing, be 
useful to me, though at the time my visits most frequently 
convince me how little wisdom or skill I have in improving 
time and opportunities. But were I to live in London, I 
know not what might be the consequence. Indeed, I need 
not puzzle myself about it, as my call does not lie there ; 
but I pity and pray for those who do live there, and I admire 
such of them as, in those circumstances which appear so 
formidable to me, are enabled to walk simply, humbly, and 
closely with the Lord. They remind me of Daniel, unhurt 
in the midst of lions, or of the bush which Moses saw, 
surrounded with flames, yet not consumed, because the Lord 
was there. Some such I do know, and I hope you are one 
of the number. 

This is certain, that if the light of God s countenance, 
and communion with Him in love, afford the greatest happi 
ness we are capable of, then whatever tends to indispose 


us for this pursuit, or to draw a veil between Him and 
our souls, must be our great loss. If we walk with Him, it 
must be in the path of duty, which lies plain before us when 
our eye is single, and we are waiting with attention upon 
His word, Spirit, and providence. Now, wherever the path 
of duty leads we are safe ; and it often does lead and place 
us in such circumstances as no other consideration would 
make us choose. We were not designed to be mere recluses, 
but have all a part to act in life. Now, if I find myself in 
the midst of things disagreeable enough in themselves 
to the spiritual life ; yet if, when the question occurs, 
" What dost thou here ? " my heart can answer, " I am here 
by the will of God ; I believe it to be, all things considered, 
my duty to be here at this time rather than elsewhere " : If 
I say I am tolerably satisfied of this, then I would not burden 
and grieve myself about what I cannot avoid or alter, but 
endeavour to take all such things up with cheerfulness, as a 
part of my daily cross ; since I am called, not only to do the 
will of God, but to suffer it : but if I am doing my own will 
rather than His, then I have reason to fear, lest I should 
meet with either a snare or a sting at every step. May the 
Lord Jesus be with you ! 

I am, &c. 


DEAR MADAM, April 13, 1776. 

I AM rather of the latest to present my congratulations 
to you and Mr. - - on your marriage, but I have not been 
unmindful of you. My heart has repeatedly wished you all 
that my pen can express, that the new relation in which the 
providence of God has placed you, may be blessed to you in 
every respect, may afford you much temporal comfort, 
promote your spiritual progress, and enlarge your sphere of 
usefulness in the world and in the Church. 

By this time I suppose visits and ceremonies are pretty 
well over, and you are beginning to be settled in your new 
situation, What an important period is a wedding-day ! 


What an entire change of circumstances does it produce ! 
What an influence it has upon every day of future life ! 
How many cares, inquietudes, and trials, does it expose us to, 
which we might otherwise have avoided ! But they who 
love the Lord, and are guided by His Word and providence, 
have nothing to fear ; for in every state, relation, and 
circumstance in life, He will be with them, and will surely 
do them good. His grace, which is needful in a single, is 

sufficient for a married life. I sincerely wish Mr. and 

you much happiness together ; that you may be mutually 
helpmeets, and assist each other in walking as fellow heirs 
of the hope of eternal life. Your cares and trials, I know, 
must be increased ; may your comforts be increased 
proportionally ! They will be so, if you are enabled heartily 
and simply to entreat the Lord to keep your heart fixed near 
to Himself. All the temporal blessings and accommodations 
He provides to sweeten life, and make our passage through 
this wilderness more agreeable, will fail and disappoint us, 
and produce us more thorns than roses, unless we can keep 
sight of His hand in bestowing them, and hold and use the 
gifts in some due subserviency to what we owe to the Giver. 
But, alas ! we are poor creatures, prone to wander, prone 
to admire our gourds, cleave to our cisterns, and think of 
building tabernacles, and taking our rest in this polluted 
world. Hence the Lord often sees it necessary, in mercy to 
His children, to embitter their sweets, to break their cisterns, 
send a worm to their gourds, and draw a dark cloud over their 
pleasing prospects. His Word tells us, that all here is vanity 
compared with the light of His countenance ; and if we 
cannot or will not believe it upon the authority of His Word, 
we must learn it by experience. May He enable you to 
settle it in your hearts, that creature-comforts are precarious, 
insufficient, and ensnaring ; that all good comes from His 
hand, and that nothing can do us good, but so far as He is 
pleased to make it the instrument of communicating, as 
a stream, that goodness which is in Him as a fountain ! 
Even the bread which we eat, without the influence of His 
promise and blessing, would no more support us than a 
stone ; but His blessing makes every thing good, gives a 
tenfold value to our comforts, and greatly diminishes the 
weight of every cross, The ring upon your finger is of some 


value as gold, but this is not much ; what makes it chiefly 
valuable to you is, that you consider it as a pledge and 
token of the relation you bear to him who gave it you. 
I know no fitter emblem of the light in which we should 
consider all those good things which the Lord gives us richly 
to enjoy. When everything we receive from Him is received 
and prized as a fruit and pledge of His covenant-love, then 
His bounties, instead of being set up as rivals and idols to 
draw our heart from Him, awaken us to fresh exercises of 
gratitude, and furnish us with fresh motives of cheerful 
obedience every hour. 

Time is short, and we live in a dark and cloudy day. 
When iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold : and 
we have reason to fear the Lord s hand is lifted up in dis 
pleasure at our provocations. May He help us to sit loose 
to all below, and to be found watching unto prayer, for 
grace to keep our garments undefiled, and to be faithful 
witnesses for Him in our places ! O ! it is my desire for 
myself and for all my dear friends, that whilst too many 
seem content with a half profession, a name to live, an 
outward attachment to ordinances, and sentiments, and 
parties, we may be ambitious to experience what the 
glorious Gospel is capable of effecting, both as to sanctifica- 
tion and consolation, in this state of infirmity ; that we may 
have our loins girded up, our lamps burning, and, by our 
simplicity and spirituality, constrain those who know us, to 
acknowledge that we have been with Jesus, have sat at His 
feet, and drunk of His Spirit. 

I am, &c. 



MRS. H- 


LONG and often I have thought of writing to you ; now 
the time is come. May the Lord help me to send a word in 
season ! I know not how it may be with you, but He does, 
and to Him I look to direct my thoughts accordingly. I 
suppose you are still in the school of the cross, learning the 
happy art of extracting real good out of seeming evil, and to 
grow tall by stooping. The flesh is a sad untoward dunce 
in this school ; but grace makes the spirit willing to learn by 
suffering ; yea, it cares not what it endures, so sin may 
be mortified, and a conformity to the image of Jesus be 
increased. Surely, when we see the most and the best of 
the Lord s children so often in heaviness, and when we 
consider how much He loves them, and what He has done 
and prepared for them, we may take it for granted that 
there is a need-be for their sufferings. For it would be 
easy to His power, and not a thousandth part of what 
His love intends to do for them, should He make their whole 
life here, from the hour of their conversion to their death, 
a continued course of satisfaction and comfort, without 
anything to distress them from within or without. But 
were it so, should we not miss many advantages ? In the 
first place, we should not then be very conformable to our 
Head, nor be able to say, " As He was, so are we in this 
world." Methinks a believer would be ashamed to be so 
utterly unlike his Lord. What ! the master always a man 
of sorrow and acquainted with grief, and the servant always 
happy and full of comfort ! Jesus despised, reproached, 



neglected, opposed, and betrayed, and His people admired 
and caressed ; He living in the want of all things, and they 
filled with abundance ; He sweating blood for anguish, and 
they strangers to distress ! How unsuitable would these 
things be ! How much better to be called to the honour of 
experiencing a measure of His sufferings ! A cup was put 
into His hand on our account, and His love engaged Him to 
drink it for us. The wrath which it contained He drank 
wholly Himself ; but He left us a little affliction to taste, 
that we might pledge Him, and remember how He loved us, 
and how much more He endured for us than He will ever call 
us to endure for Him. Again, how could we, without 
sufferings, manifest the nature and truth of Gospel-grace ! 
What place should we then have for patience, submission, 
meekness, forbearance, and a readiness to forgive, if we 
had nothing to try us, either from the hand of the Lord, or 
from the hand of men ! A Christian without trials would be 
like a mill without wind or water ; the contrivance and design 
of the wheel-work within-side would be unnoticed and 
unknown, without something to put it in motion from 
without. Nor would our graces grow, unless they were 
called out to exercise ; the difficulties we meet with not 
only prove, but strengthen, the graces of the spirit. If a 
person were always to sit still, without making use of legs 
or arms, he would probably wholly lose the power of moving 
his limbs at last ; but by walking and working he becomes 
strong and active. So, in a long course of ease, the powers 
of the new man would certainly languish ; the soul would 
grow soft, indolent, cowardly, and faint ; and therefore the 
Lord appoints His children such dispensations as make 
them strive and struggle, and pant ; they must press through 
a crowd, swim against a stream, endure hardships, run, 
wrestle, and fight ; and thus their strength grows in the 

By these things, likewise, they are made more willing to 
leave the present world, to which we are prone to cleave 
too closely in our hearts when our path is very smooth. 
Had Israel enjoyed their former peace and prosperity in 
Egypt, when Moses came to invite them to Canaan, I think 
they would hardly have listened to him. But the Lord 
suffered them to be brought into great trouble and bondage, 


and then the news of deJiverance was more welcome ; yet 
still they were but half willing, and they carried a love to 
the flesh-pots of Egypt with them into the wilderness. We 
are like them : though we say this world is vain and sinful, 
we are too fond of it ; and though we hope for true happiness 
only in Heaven, we are often well content to stay longer 
here. But the Lord sends afflictions one after another to 
quicken our desires, and to convince us that this cannot be 
our rest. Sometimes if you drive a bird from one branch 
of a tree he will hop to another a little higher, and from 
thence to a third ; but if you continue to disturb him, he 
will at last take wing, and fly quite away. Thus we, when 
forced from one creature-comfort, perch upon another, and 
so on ; but the Lord mercifully follows us with trials, and 
will not let us rest upon any ; by degrees our desires take 
a nobler flight, and can be satisfied with nothing short of 
Himself ; and we say, " To depart and be with Jesus is best 
of all!" 

I trust you find the name and grace of Jesus more and more 
precious to you ; His promises more sweet, and your hope 
in them more abiding ; your sense of your own weakness 
and unworthiness daily increasing ; your persuasion of his 
all-sufficiency, to guide, support, and comfort you, more 
confirmed. You owe your growth in these respects in a 
great measure to His blessing upon those afflictions which 
He has prepared for you, and sanctified to you. May 
you praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all 
that is to come ! 

I am, &c. 


THOUGH I have the pleasure of hearing of you, and 
sending a remembrance from time to time, I am willing, 
by this opportunity, to direct a few lines to you, as a more 
express testimony of my sincere regard. 

I think your experience is generally of the fearful doubting 
cast. Such souls, however, the Lord has given particular 


charge to his ministers to comfort. He knows our infirmities, 
and what temptations mean, and as a good Shepherd He 
expresses a peculiar care and tenderness for the weak of 
the flock (Isa. xl. 4). But how must I attempt your comfort ? 
Surely not by strengthening a mistake to which we are all too 
liable, by leading you to look into your own heart for (what 
you will never find there) something in yourself whereon 
to ground your hopes, if not wholly, yet at least in part. 
Rather let me endeavour to lead you out of yourself ; let 
me invite you to look unto Jesus. Should we look for light 
in our own eyes, or in the sun ? Is it indwelling sin distresses 
you ? Then I can tell you (though you know it) that Jesus 
died for sin and sinners. I can tell you that His blood and 
righteousness are of infinite value ; that His arm is almighty 
and His compassions infinite ; yea, you yourself read His 
promises every day, and why should you doubt their being 
fulfilled ? If you say you do not question their truth, or 
that they are accomplished to many, but that you can 
hardly believe they belong to you, I would ask, what evidence 
you would require ? A voice or an angel from Heaven 
you do not expect. Consider, if many of the promises are 
not expressly directed to those to whom they belong. 
When you read your name on the superscription of this 
letter you make no scruple to open it : why, then, do you 
hesitate at embracing the promises of the Gospel, where 
you read that they are addressed to those who mourn, 
who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who are poor in 
spirit, &c., and cannot but be sensible that a gracious God 
has begun to work these dispositions in your heart ? If 
you say, that though you do at times mourn, hunger, &c., 
you are afraid you do it not enough, or not aright, consider 
that this sort of reasoning is very far from the spirit and 
language of the Gospel ; for it is grounded on a secret 
supposition, that in the forgiveness of sin God has a respect 
to something more than the atonement and mediation of 
Jesus ; namely, to some previous good qualifications in a 
sinner s heart, which are to share with the blood of Christ 
in the honour of salvation. The enemy deceives us in this 
matter the more easily, because a propensity to the covenant 
of works is a part of our natural depravity. Depend 
upon it you will never have a suitable and sufficient sense of 

C. 2C 


the evil of sin, and of your share in it, so long as you have 
any sin remaining in you. We must see Jesus as He is 
before our apprehension of any spiritual truth will be 
complete. But if we know that we must perish without 
Christ, and that He is able to save to the uttermost, we 
know enough to warrant us to cast our souls upon Him, and 
we dishonour Him by fearing that when we do so He will 
disappoint our hope. But if you are still perplexed about 
the high points of election, &c., I would advise you to leave 
the disposal of others to the great Judge ; and as to yourself, 
I think I need not say much to persuade you, that if ever 
you are saved at all, it must be in a way of free and absolute 
grace. Leave disputes to others ; wait upon the Lord, and 
He will teach you all things in such degree and time as He 
sees best. Perhaps you have suffered for taking things too 
much upon trust from men. Cease from man, whose breath 
is in his nostrils. One is your master, even Christ. Study 
and pray over the Bible ; and you may take it as a sure 
rule, that whatever sentiment makes any part of the Word of 
God unwelcome to you, is justly to be suspected. Aim at a 
cheerful spirit. The more you trust God, the better you 
will serve Him. While you indulge unbelief and suspicion, 
you weaken your own hands, and discourage others. Be 
thankful for what He has shown you, and wait upon Him for 
more : you shall find He has not said, " Seek ye My face " 
in vain. I heartily commend you to His grace and care, 

And am, &c. 


AT length, and without farther apology for my silence, 
I sit down to ask you how you fare. Afflictions I hear have 
been your lot ; and if I had not heard so, I should have taken 
it for granted : for I believe the Lord loves you ; and as 
many as He loves He chastens. I think you can say, 
afflictions have been good for you, and I doubt not but 
you have found strength according to your day ; so that, 
though you may have been sharply tried, you have not been 


overpowered. For the Lord has engaged His faithfulness 
for this to all His children, that He will support them in all 
their trials : so that the fire shall not consume them, nor the 
floods drown them (i Cor. x. 13 ; Isa. xliii. 2). 

If you can say thus much, cannot you go a little further, 
and add, in the apostle s words, " None of these things move 
me, neither count I my life dear. I rather glory in my 
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me : 
yea, doubtless, I count all things loss and of no regard, for 
the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ; 
for when I am weak, then am I strong " ? Methinks I 
hear you say, " God, who comforteth those who are cast 
down, has comforted my soul ; and as my troubles have 
abounded, my consolations in Christ have abounded also. 
He has delivered, He does deliver, and in Him I trust that 
He will yet deliver me." Surely you can set your seal to 
these words. The Lord help you then to live more and more 
a life of faith, to feed upon the promises, and to rejoice in 
the assurance that all things are yours, and shall surely 
work for your good. 

If I guess right at what passes in your heart, the name of 
Jesus is precious to you, and this is a sure token of salvation, 
and that of God. You could not have loved Him, if He had 
not loved you first. He spoke to you, and said, " Seek 
My face," before your heart cried to Him, " Thy face, O 
Lord, will I seek." But you complain, " Alas ! I love Him 
so little." That very complaint proves that you love Him 
a great deal ; for if you loved Him but a little, you would 
think you loved Him enough. A mother loves her child a 
great deal, yet does not complain for not loving it more ; 
nay, perhaps she hardly thinks it possible. But such an 
infinite object is Jesus, that they who love Him better than 
parents or child, or any earthly relation or comfort, will still 
think they hardly love Him at all ; because they see such a 
vast disproportion between the utmost they can give Him, 
and what in Himself He deserves from them. But I can 
give you good advice and good news : love Him as well as 
you can now, and ere long you shall love Him better. O 
when you see Him as He is, then I am sure you will love Him 
indeed ! If you want to love Him better now while you are 
here, I believe I can tell you the secret how this is to be 



attained : Trust Him. The more you trust Him, the better 
you will love Him. If you ask, farther, How shall I do to 
trust Him ? I answer, Try Him : the more you make 
trial of Him, the more your trust in Him will be strengthened. 
Venture upon His promises ; carry them to Him, and see 
if He will not be as good as His word. But, alas ! Satan 
and unbelief work the contrary way. We are unwilling to 
try Him, and therefore unable to trust Him ; and what 
wonder, then, that our love is faint, for who can love at 
uncertainties ? 

If you are in some measure thankful for what you have 
received, and hungering and thirsting for more, you are 
in the frame I would wish for myself ; and I desire to praise 
the Lord on your behalf. Pray for us. We join in love 
to you. 

I am, &c. 





August 17, 1767. 

IT is indeed natural to us to wish and to plan, and it 
is merciful in the Lord to disappoint our plans, and to 
cross our wishes. For we cannot be safe, much less happy, 
but in proportion as we are weaned from our own wills, 
and made simply desirous of being directed by His guidance. 
This truth (when we are enlightened by His Word) is suffi 
ciently familiar to the judgment ; but we seldom learn to 
reduce it to practice, without being trained awhile in the 
school of disappointment. The schemes we form look so 
plausible and convenient, that when they are broken, we 
are ready to say, What a pity ! We try again, and with 
no better success ; we are grieved, and perhaps angry, and 
plan out another, and so on ; at length, in a course of time, 
experience and observation begin to convince us, that we 
are not more able than we are worthy to choose aright for 
ourselves. Then the Lord s invitation to cast our cares 
upon Him, and His promise to take care of us, appear 
valuable ; and when we have done planning, His plan in 
our favour gradually opens, and he does more and better 
for us than we either ask or think. I can hardly recollect 
a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen 
reason to be satisfied, that had it taken place in season and 
circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, 
have proved my ruin ; or at least it would have deprived 
me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. We 
judge of things by their present appearances, but the Lord 


sees them in their consequences ; if we could do so likewise, 
we should be perfectly of His mind ; but as we cannot, it 
is an unspeakable mercy that He will manage for us, whether 
we are pleased with His management or not ; and it is 
spoken of as one of his heaviest judgments, when He gives 
any person or people up to the way of their own hearts, 
and to walk after their own counsels. 

Indeed we may admire His patience towards us. If we 
were blind, and reduced to desire a person to lead us, and 
shouM yet pretend to dispute with him, and direct him at 
every step, we should probably soon weary him, and provoke 
him to leave us to find the way by ourselves if we could. 
But our gracious Lord is long-suffering and full of compas 
sion ; He bears with our forwardness, yet He will take 
methods to both shame and to humble us, and to bring us 
to a confession that He is wiser than we. The great and 
unexpected benefits He intends us, by all the discipline we 
meet with, is to tread down our wills, and bring them into 
subjection to His. So far as we attain to this, we are out of 
the reach of disappointment ; for when the will of God can 
please us, we shall be pleased every day, and from morning 
to night ; I mean with respect to His dispensations. O 
the happiness of such a life ! I have an idea of it ; I hope 
I am aiming at it, but surely I have not attained it. Self 
is active in my heart, if it does not absolutely reign there. I 
profess to believe that one thing is needful and sufficient, 
and yet my thoughts are prone to wander after a hundred 
more. If it be true that the light of His countenance is 
better than life, why am I solicitous about anything else ? 
If He be all-sufficient, and gives me liberty to call Him mine, 
why do I go a-begging to creatures for help ? If He be about 
my path and bed ; if the smallest, as well as the greatest, 
events in which I am concerned, are under His immediate 
direction ; if the very hairs of my head are numbered ; 
then my care (any farther than a care to walk in the paths 
of His precepts, and to follow the openings of His providence) 
must be useless and needless, yea, indeed, sinful and heathen 
ish, burdensome to myself, and dishonourable to my profes 
sion. Let us cast down the load we are unable to carry, and 
if the Lord be our Shepherd, refer all and trust all to Him. 
Let us endeavour to live to Him and for Him to-day, and 


be glad that to-morrow, with all that is behind it, is in His 

It is storied of Pompey, that when his friends would have 
dissuaded him from putting to sea in a storm, he answered, 
It is necessary for me to sail, but it is not necessary for me 
to live. A pompous speech, in Pompey s sense ! He was 
full of the idea of his own importance, and would rather have 
died than have taken a step beneath his supposed dignity. 
But it may be accommodated with propriety to a believer s 
case. It becomes us to say, It is not necessary for me to be 
rich, or what the world accounts wise ; to be healthy, or 
admired by my fellow-worms ; to pass through life in a 
state of prosperity and outward comfort ; these things 
may be, or they may be otherwise, as the Lord in His 
wisdom shall appoint ; but it is necessary for me to be 
humble and spiritual, to seek communion with God, to adorn 
my profession of the Gospel, and to yield submissively to 
His disposal, in whatever way, whether of service or suffering, 
He shall be pleased to call me to glorify Him in the world. 
It is not necessary for me to live long, but highly expedient 
that whilst I do live I should live to Him. Here, then, I 
would bound my desires ; and here, having His word both 
for my rule and my warrant, I am secured from asking amiss. 
Let me have His presence and His Spirit, wisdom to know 
my calling, and opportunities and faithfulness to improve 
them ; and as to the rest, Lord, help me to say, " What 
Thou wilt, when Thou wilt, and how Thou wilt." 

I am, &c. 



WHAT a poor, uncertain, dying world is this ! What 
a wilderness in itself ! How dark, how desolate, without 
the light of the Gospel and the knowledge of Jesus ! It 
does not appear so to us in a state of nature, because we 
are then in a state of enchantment, the magical lantern 
blinding us with a splendid delusion. 


Thus in the desert s dreary waste, 
By magic power produc d in haste, 

As old romances say, 
Castles and groves, and music sweet, 

The senses of the trav ller cheat, 

And stop him in his way. 

But while he gazes with surprise, 
The charm dissolves, the vision dies ; 

Twas but enchanted ground ; 
Thus, if the Lord our spirit touch, 
The world, which promis d us so much, 

A wilderness is found. 

It is a great mercy to be undeceived in time ; and though 
our gay dreams are at an end, and we awake to everything 
that is disgustful and dismaying, yet we see a highway 
through the wilderness;] a powerful guard, an infallible 
Guide at hand to conduct us through ; and we can discern, 
beyond the limits of the wilderness, a better land, where we 
shall be at rest and at home. What will the difficulties 
we meet by the way then signify ? The remembrance of 
them will only remain to heighten our sense of the love, 
care, and power of our Saviour and Leader. O how shall 
we then admire, adore, and praise Him, when He shall 
condescend to unfold to us the beauty, propriety, and 
harmony of the whole train of His dispensations towards 
us, and give us a clear retrospect of all the way, and all the 
turns of our pilgrimage ! 

In the mean while, the best method of adorning our 
profession, and of enjoying peace in our souls, is simply 
to trust Him, and absolutely to commit ourselves and our 
all to His management. By casting our burdens upon 
Him, our spirits become light and cheerful ; we are freed 
from a thousand anxieties and inquietudes, wliich are weari 
some to our minds, and which, with respect to events, are 
needless for us, yea useless. But though it may be easy to 
speak of this trust, and it appears to our judgment perfectly 
right and reasonable, the actual attainment is a great 
thing ; and especially so, to trust the Lord, not by fits and 
starts, surrendering one day and retracting the next, but to 
abide by our surrender, and go habitually trusting through 
all the changes we meet, knowing that His love, purpose, 


and promise are unchangeable. Some little faintings, per 
haps, none are freed from ; but I believe a power of trusting 
the Lord in good measure at all times, and living quietly 
under the shadow of His wing, is what the promise warrants 
us to expect, if we seek it by diligent prayer ; if not all at 
once, yet by a gradual increase. May it be your experience 
and mine ! 

I am, &c. 






DEAR AND REV. SIR Jan. 27, 1778. 

I CALL you dear because I love you, and I shall continue 
to style you Reverend as long as you dignify me with that title. 
It is indeed a pretty sounding epithet, and forms a striking 
contrast in the usual application. The inhabitants of the 
moon (if there be any) have perhaps no idea how many 
Reverend, Right Reverend, and Most Reverend sinners 
we have in Europe. And yet you are reverend, and I revere 
you, because I believe the Lord liveth in you, and has 
chosen you to be a temple of His presence, and an instru 
ment of His grace. 

I hope the two sermons you preached in London were 
made useful to others, and the medicines you took there 
were useful to yourself. I am glad to hear you are safe at 
home, and something better. Cheerful spring is approaching, 
then I hope the barometer of your spirits will rise. But the 
presence of the Lord can bring a pleasanter spring than 
April, and even in the depth of winter. 

At present it is January with me, both within and without. 
The outward sun shines and looks pleasant, but his beams 
are faint, and too feeble to dissolve the frost. So is it in 
my heart ! I have many bright and pleasant beams of truth 
in my view, but cold predominates in my frost-bound spirit, 
and they have but little power to warm me. I could tell a 
stranger something about Jesus that would perhaps astonish 
him; such a glorious Person! such wonderful love! such 
humiliation ! such a death ! and then what He is now 



in Himself, and what He is to His people. What a sun ! 
What a shield ! What a root! What a life! What a Friend ! 
My tongue can run on upon these subjects sometimes ; 
and could my heart keep pace with it, I should be the 
happiest fellow in the country. Stupid creature ! to know 
these things so well, and yet be no more affected with them ! 
Indeed I have reason to be upon ill terms with myself. It 
is strange that pride should ever find anything in my experi 
ence to feed upon ; but this completes my character for 
folly, vileness, and inconsistence, that I am not only poor, 
but proud ; and though I am convinced I am a very 
wretch, a nothing before the Lord, I am prone to go forth 
among my fellow-creatures as though I were wise and 

You wonder what I am doing ; and well you may ; 
I am sure you would, if you lived with me. Too much of 
my time passes in busy idleness, too much in waking dreams. 
I aim at something ; but hindrances from within and without 
make it difficult for me to accomplish anything. I dare not 
say I am absolutely idle, or that I wilfully waste much of 
my time. I have seldom one hour free from interruption. 
Letters come that must be answered, visitants that must 
be received, business that must be attended to. I have 
a good many sheep and lambs to look after, sick and afflicted 
souls dear to the Lord ; and, therefore, whatever stands 
still, these must not be neglected. Amongst these various 
avocations, night comes before I am ready for noon ; and 
the week closes, when, according to the state of my business, 
it should not be more than Tuesday. O precious, irrecover 
able time ! O that I had more wisdom in redeeming and 
improving thee ! Pray for me, that the Lord may teach me 
to serve Him better. I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, April 28, 1778. 

I was not much disappointed at not meeting you at 
home. I knew how difficult it is to get away from - , 


if you are seen in the street after breakfast. The horse 
leech has three daughters, saying, Give, give : the cry there 
is, Preach, preach. When you have told them all, you 
must tell them more, or tell it them over again. Whoever 
will find tongue, they will engage to find ears. Yet I do 
not blame this importunity ; I wish you were teased more 
with it in your own town : for though, undoubtedly, there 
are too many both at N - and here, whose religion 
lies too much in hearing, yet in many it proceeds from a love 
to the truth, and to the ministers, who dispense it. And I 
generally observe, that they who are not willing to hear 
a stranger (if his character is known) are indifferent enough 
about hearing their own minister. 

I beg you to pray for me. I am a poor creature full of 
wants. I seem to need the wisdom of Solomon, the meek 
ness of Moses, and the zeal of Paul to enable me to make full 
proof of my ministry. But, alas ! you may guess the rest. 

Send me " The Way to Christ." I am willing to be a debtor 
to the wise and unwise, to doctors and shoemakers, if I can 
get a hint, or a nota bene, from any one, without respect to 
parties. When a house is on fire, Churchmen, Dissenters, 
Methodists, Papists, Moravians, and Mystics, are all welcome 
to bring water. At such times nobody asks, Pray, friend, 
whom do hear ? or, What do you think of the five points ? 
&c., &c. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, July 17, 1778. 

I KNOW not that I have anything to say worth postage, 
though, perhaps, had I seen you before you set off, something 
might have occurred which will not be found in my letter. 
Yet I write a line because you bid me, and are now in 

a far, foreign country. You will find Mr. a man 

to your tooth, but he is in Mr. W s connexion. So I 

remember Venerable Rede, after giving a high character 
of some contemporary, kicks his full pail of milk down, 


and reduces him almost to nothing, by adding, in the close, 
to this purpose : " But, unhappy man, he did not keep 
Easter our way ! " A fig for all connexions, say I, and say 
you, but that which is formed by the bands, joints, and 
ligaments, the apostle speaks of, Eph. iv. 16, et alibi. There 
fore I venture to repeat it, that Mr. - , though he often 
sees and hears Mr. W , and I believe loves him well, 
is a good man ; and you will see the invisible mark upon his 
forehead, if you examine him with your spiritual spectacles. 

Now, methinks, I do pity you : I see you melted with 
heat, stifled with smoke, stunned with noise. Ah ! what 
a change from the brooks, and bushes, and birds, and green 
fields, to which you had lately access ! Of old they used to 
retire into the deserts for mortification. If I were to set 
myself a moderate penance, it might be to spend a fortnight 
in London in the height of summer. But I forget myself : 
I hope the Lord is with you, and then all places are alike. 
He makes the dungeon and the stocks comfortable, Acts xvi. ; 
yea, a fiery furnace and a lion s den. A child of God in 
London seems to be in all these trying situations : but Jesus 
can preserve His own. I honour the grace of God in those 
few (comparatively few, I fear) who preserve their garments 
undefiled in that Sardis. The air is filled with infection, 
and it is by special power and miraculous preservation 
they enjoy spiritual health, when so many sicken and fall 
around them on the right hand and on the left. May the 
Lord preserve you from the various epidemical soul-diseases 
which abound where you are, and be your comfort and 
defence from day to day ! 

Last week we had a lion in town. I went to see him. 
He was wonderfully tame ; as familiar with his keeper, as 
docile and obedient as a spaniel. Yet the man told me he 
had his surly fits, when they durst not touch him. No 
looking-glass could express my face more justly than tlu s 
lion did my heart. I could trace every feature, as wild and 
fierce by nature, yea, much more so, but grace has in some 
measure tamed me, I know and love my Keeper, and 
sometimes watch His looks that I may learn His will. But, 
oh ! I havejny surly fits too ; seasons when I relapse into 
the savage again, as though I had forgotten all. 

I am, &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, July 13, 1778. 

As we are so soon to meet, and as I have nothing 
very important to communicate, and many things occur 
which might demand my time, I have no other plea to offer, 
either to you or myself, for writing again, but because I love 

I 7 pity the unknown considerable minister, with whom 
you smoked your morning pipe. But we must take men 
and things as we find them ; and when we fall in company 
with those from whom we can get little other good, it is 
likely we shall at least find occasion for the exercise of 
patience and charity towards them, and of thankfulness 
to Him who hath made us to differ. And these are good 
things, though perhaps the occasion may not be pleasant. 
Indeed, a Christian, if in a right spirit, is alway in his Lord s 
school, and may learn either a new lesson, or how to practise 
an old one, by everything he sees or hears, provided he 
does not wilfully tread upon forbidden ground. If he were 
constrained to spend a day with the poor creatures in the 
common side of Newgate, though he could not talk with 
them of what God has done for his soul, he might be more 
sensible of His mercy by the contrast he would observe 
around him. He might rejoice for himself, and mourn 
over them, and thus perhaps get as much benefit as from 
the best sermon be ever heard. 

It is necessary, all things taken together, to have con 
nection more or less with narrow-minded people. If they 
are, notwithstanding their prejudices, civil to us, they have 
a right to some civility from us. We may love them 
though we cannot admire them ; and pick something good 
from them, notwithstanding we see much to blame. It 
is perhaps the highest triumph we can obtain over bigotry, 
when we are able to bear with bigots themselves. For they 
are a set of troublesome folks, whom Mr. Self is often very 
forward to exclude from the comprehensive candour and 
tenderness which he professes to exercise towards those who 
differ from him. 

I am glad your present home (a believer should be always 


at home) is pleasant ; the rooms large and airy ; your host 
and hostess kind and spiritual ; and, upon the whole, all 
things as well as you could expect to find them, considering 
where you are. I could give you much such an account 
of my usual head-quarters in the city ; but still London 
is London. I do not wish you to live there, for my own 
sake as well as yours ; but if the Lord should so appoint, I 
believe He can make you easy there, and enable me to 
make a tolerable shift without you. Yet I certainly should 
miss you ; for I have no person in this neighbourhood with 
whom my heart so thoroughly unites in spirituals, though 
there are many whom I love. But conversation with most 
Christians is something like going to court ; where, except 
you are dressed exactly according to a prescribed standard, 
you will either not be admitted, or must expect to be heartily 
stared at. But you and I can meet and converse, sans 
contrainte, in an undress, without fear of offending, or being 
accounted offenders, for a word out of place, and not exactly 
in the pink of the mode. 

I know not how it is : I think my sentiments and experience 
are as orthodox and Calvinistical as need be ; and yet I am 
a sort of speckled bird among my Calvinist brethren. I am 
a mighty good Churchman, but pass amongst such as a 
Dissenter in prunello. On the other hand, the Dissenters 
(many of them I mean) think me defective, either in 
understanding or in conscience, for staying where I am. 
Well, there is a middle party called Methodist, but neither 
do my dimensions exactly fit with them. I am somehow 
disqualified for claiming a full brotherhood with any party. 
But there are a few among all parties who bear with me and 
love me, and with this I must be content at present. But so 
far as they love the Lord Jesus, I desire, and by His grace I 
determine (with or without their leave) to love them all. 
Party-walls, though stronger than the wall of Babylon, must 
come down in the general ruin, when the earth and all its 
works shall be burnt up, if not sooner. 

I am, &c. 



MY DEAR SIR, July, 1778. 

-I WAS glad to hear that you were again within a few 
miles of me ; and I would praise the Lord, who led you 
out and brought you home in safety, and preserved all in 
peace while you were abroad, so that you find nothing very 
painful to embitter your return. Many go abroad well, but 
return no more. The affectionate wife, the prattling children 
listen for the well-known sound of papa s foot at the door ; 
but they listen in vain : a fall or a fever has intercepted him, 
and hejs gone far, far away. Some leave all well when they 
go from home ; but how changed, how trying the scene, 
when they come back ! In their absence the Lord has taken 
away the desire of their eyes with a stroke ; or, perhaps, 
ruffians have plundered and murdered their family in the 
dead of the night, or the fire has devoured their habitation. 

Ah ! how large and various is the list of evils and calamities 
with which sin has filled the world ! You and I and ours 
escape them ; we stand, though in a field of battle where 
thousands fall around us, because the Lord is pleased to 
keep us. May He have the praise, and may we only live 
to love and serve Him ! 

Mrs. - - has been very ill, and my heart often much 
pained while you have been absent. But the Lord has 
removed His hand ; she is much better, and I hope she will 
be seen in His house to-morrow. I have few trials in my 
own person ; but when the Lord afflicts her, I feel it. It is 
a mercy that He has made us one ; but it exposes us to many 
a pain, which we might have missed if we cared but little 
for each other. Alas ! there is usually an ounce of the 
golden calf of idolatry and dependence, in all the warm 
regard we bear to creatures. Hinc illce lacrymce ! For this 
reason, our sharpest trials usually spring from our most 
valued comforts. 

I cannot come to you, therefore you must come hither 
speedily. Be sure to bring Mr. B - with you. I shall be 
very glad to see him ; and I long to thank him for clothing 
my book. It looks well on the outside, and I hope to find it 
sound and savoury. I love the author, and that is a step 


towards liking the book. For where we love, we are gener 
ally tender, and favourably take everything by the best 
handle, and are vastly full of candour : but if we are pre 
judiced against the man, the poor book is half condemned 
before we open it. It had need be. written well, for it will 
be read with a suspicious eye, as if we wished to find treason 
in every page. I am glad I diverted and profited you by 
calling myself a speckled bird. I can tell you, such a bird 
in this day, that wears the full colour of no sect or party, is 
rara avis ; if not quite so scarce as the phoenix, yet to be met 
with but here and there. It is impossible I should be all of 
a colour, when I have been a debtor to all sorts ; and, like 
the jay in the fable, have been beholden to most of the 
birds in the air for a feather or two. Church and Meeting, 
Methodist and Moravian, may all perceive something in 
my coat taken from them. None of them are angry with 
me for borrowing from them ; but then, why could I not be 
content with their colour, without going amongst other 
flocks and coveys, to make myself such a motley figure ? 
Let them be angry : if I have culled the best feathers from 
all, then surely I am finer than any. 

I am, &c. 


DEAR SIR, Aug., 1778. 

IF the Lord affords health ; if the weather be tolerable ; 
if no unforeseen change takes place ; if no company comes 
in upon me to-night (which sometimes unexpectedly hap 
pens) ; with these provisos, Mr. S. and I have engaged to 

travel to - - on Monday next, and hope to be with you by 
or before eleven o clock. 

In such a precarious world, it is needful to form our 
plans at two days distance, with precaution and exceptions 
James iv. 13.) However, if it be the Lord s will to bring us 
together, and if the proposed interview be for His glory and 
our good, then I am sure nothing shall prevent it. And who 
in his right wits would wish either to visit or be visited upon 

C. 2D 


any other terms ? O ! if we could but be pleased with His 
will, we might be pleased from morning to night, and every 
day in the year ! 

Pray for a blessing upon our coming together. It would 
be a pity to walk ten miles to pick straws, or to come with 
our empty vessels upon our heads, saying, " We have found 
no water." 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, Oct., 1778. 

YOUR letters are always welcome ; the last doubly so, 
for being unexpected. If you never heard before of a line 
of yours being useful, I will tell you for once, that I get some 
pleasure and instruction whenever you write to me. And I 
see not but your call to letter-writing is as clear as mine, 
at least when you are able to put pen to paper. 

I must say something to your queries about 2 Sam. 
xiv. I do not approve of the scholastic distinctions about 
inspiration, which seem to have a tendency to explain away 
the authority and certainty of one-half of the Bible at least. 
Though the penmen of Scripture were ever so well informed 
of some facts, they would, as you observe, need express, full, 
and infallible inspiration, to teach them which the Lord 
would have selected and recorded for the use of the Church, 
amongst many others which to themselves might appear 
equally important. 

However, with respect to historical passages, I dare not 
pronounce positively that any of them are, even in the literal 
sense, unworthy of the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, and the 
dignity of inspiration. Some, yea, many of them, have often 
appeared trivial to me ; but I check the thought, and charge it 
to my own ignorance and temerity. It must have some 
importance, because I read it in God s Book. On the other 
hand, though I will not deny that they may all have a 
spiritual and mystical sense (for I am no more qualified to 
judge of the deep things of the Spirit, than to tell you what 


is passing this morning at the bottom of the sea), yet if, 
with my present modicum of light, I should undertake to 
expound many passages in a mystical sense, I fear such a 
judge as you would think my interpretations fanciful and 
not well supported. I suppose I should have thought the 
Bible complete, though it had not informed me of the 
death of Rebekah s nurse, or where she was buried. But 
some tell me that Deborah is the law, and that by the oak I 
am to understand the cross of Christ : and I remember to 
have heard of a preacher who discovered a type of Christ 
crucified in Absalom hanging by the hair on another oak. 
I am quite a mole when compared with these eagle-eyed 
divines ; and must often content myself with plodding upon 
the lower ground of accommodation and allusion ; except 
when the New Testament writers assure me what the mind of 
the Holy Ghost was. I can find the Gospel with more con 
fidence in the history of Sarah and Hagar, than in that of 
Leah and Rachael ; though without Paul s help, I should 
have considered them both as family-squabbles, recorded 
chiefly to illustrate the general truth, that vanity and 
vexation of spirit are incident to the best men, in the most 
favoured situations. And I think there is no part of Old 
Testament history from which I could not (the Lord helping 
me) draw observations, that might be suitable to the pulpit, 
and profitable to His people : so I might perhaps from 
Livy or Tacitus. But then, with the Bible in my hands, 
I go upon sure grounds : I am certain of the facts I speak 
from, that they really did happen. I may likewise depend 
upon the springs and motives of actions, and not amuse 
myself and my hearers with speeches which were never 
spoken, and motives which were never thought of, till 
the historian rummaged his pericranium for something to 
embellish his work. I doubt not but were you to consider 
Joab s courtly conduct only in a literal sense, how it tallied 
with David s desire, and how gravely and graciously he 
granted himself a favour, while he professed to oblige Joab ; 
I say, in this view you would be able to illustrate many 
important scriptural doctrines, and to show that the passage 
is important to those who are engaged in studying the 
anatomy of the human heart. 

I am, &c. 

2D 2 



MY DEAR FRIEND, Oct. 27, 1778. 

I HAVE been witness to a great and important revolution 
this morning, which took place while the greatest part of the 
world was asleep. Like many state-revolutions, its first 
beginnings were almost undiscernible ; but the progress, 
though gradual, was steady, and the event decisive. A 
white ago darkness reigned. Had a man then dropped, for 
the first time, into our world, lie might have thought himself 
banished into a hopeless dungeon. How could he expect 
light to rise out of such a state ? And when he saw the first 
glimmering of dawn in the east, how could he promise himself 
that it was the forerunner of such a glorious sun as has 
since arisen ? With what wonder would such a newcomer 
observe the bounds of his view enlarging, and the distinctness 
of objects increasing, from one minute to another ; and how 
well content would he be to part with the twinklings of the 
stars, when he had the broad day all around him in exchange ! 
I cannot say this revolution is extraordinary, because it 
happens every morning ; but surely it is astonislu ng, or 
rather it would be so, if man was not astonishingly stupid. 

Such strangers once were we. Darkness, gross darkness, 
covered us. How confined were our views ! And even the 
things which were within our reach we could not distinguish. 
Little did we then think what a glorious day we were ap 
pointed to see ; what an unbounded prospect would ere long 
open before us ! We knew not that there was a Sun of 
Righteousness, and that He would dawn, and rise, and shine 
upon our hearts. And as the idea of what we see now was 
then hidden from us, so at present we are almost equally 
at a loss how to form any conception of the stronger light 
and brighter prospects which we wait and hope for. Com 
paratively we are in the dark still ; at the most, we have 
but a dim twilight, and see nothing clearly ; but it is the 
dawn of immortality, and a sure presage and earnest of 

Thus, at times, it seems, a darkness that may be felt 
broods over your natural spirits ; but when the Day-star 
rises upon your heart, you see and rejoice in His light. 


You have days as well as nights ; and after a few more 
vicissitudes, you will take your flight to the regions of 
everlasting light, where your sun will go down no more. 
Happy you, and happy I, if I shall meet you there, as I 
trust I shall. How shall we love, and sing, and wonder, 
and praise the Saviour s name ! 

Last Sunday a young man died here of extreme old age, 
at twenty-five. He laboured hard to ruin a good constitu 
tion, and unhappily succeeded ; yet amused himself with 
the hopes of recovery almost to the last. We have a sad 
knot of such poor creatures in this place, who labour to 
stifle each other s convictions, and to ruin themselves and 
associates, soul and body. How industriously is Satan 
served ! I was formerly one of his most active under- 
tempters. Not content with running the broad way myself, 
I was indefatigable in enticing others ; and had my influence 
been equal to my wishes, I would have carried all the 
human race with me. And doubtless some have perished, 
to whose destruction I was greatly instrumental, by tempting 
them to sin, and by poisoning and hardening them with 
principles of infidelity ; and yet I was spared. When I 
think of the most with whom I spent my unhappy days of 
ignorance, I am ready to say, " I only am escaped alive to 
tell thee." Surely I have not half the activity and zeal in 
the service of Him who snatched me as a brand out of the 
burning, as I had in the service of His enemy. Then the 
whole stream of my endeavours and affections went one 
way ; now my best desires are continually crossed, counter 
acted, and spoiled, by the sin which dwelleth in me : then 
the tide of a corrupt nature bore me along ; now I have to 
strive and swim against it. The Lord cut me short of oppor 
tunities, and placed me where I could do but little mischief ; 
had my abilities and occasions been equal to my heart, I 
should have been a Voltaire and a Tiberius in one character, 
a monster of profaneness and licentiousness. " O to grace 
how great a debtor ! " A common drunkard or profligate 
is a petty sinner to what I was. I had the ambition of a 
Caesar or an Alexander, and wanted to rank in wickedness 
among the foremost of the human race. When you have 
read this, praise the Lord for His mercy to the chief of 
sinners, and pray that I may have grace to be faithful. But 


I have rambled. I meant to tell you, that on Sunday after 
noon I preached from Why will ye die? Ezek. xxxiii. 10, n. 
I endeavoured to show poor sinners, that if they died, it was 
because they would, and if they would, they must. I was 
much affected for a time : I could hardly speak for weeping, 
and some wept with me. From some, alas ! I can no more 
draw a tear or a relenting thought, than from a millstone. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, Nov. 27.1778. 

You are a better expositor of Scripture than of my 
speeches, if you really inferred from my last that I think 
you shall die soon. I cannot say positively you will not 
idie soon, because life at all times is uncertain ; however, 
according to the doctrine of probabilities, I think, and always 
thought, you bid fair enough to outlive me. The gloomy 
tinge of your weak spirits led you to consider yourself much 
worse in point of health than you appear to me to be. 

In the other point I dare be more positive, that, die when 
you will, you will die in the Lord. Of this I have not the 
least doubt ; and I believe you doubt of it less, if possible, 
than I, except in those darker moments when the atrabilious 
humour prevails. 

I heartily sympathize with you in your complaints ; 
but I see you in safe hands. The Lord loves you, and will 
take care of you. He who raises the dead, can revive your 
spirits when you are cast down. He who sets bounds to 
the sea, and says, " Hitherto shalt thou come and no 
further," can limit and moderate that gloom which some 
times distresses you. He knows why He permits you to be 
thus exercised. I cannot assign the reasons, but I am sure 
they are worthy of His wisdom and love, and that you will 
hereafter see, and say, He has done all things well. If I 
were as wise as your philosopher, I might say a great deal 
about a melancholy complexion ; but I love not to puzzle 
mvself with second causes, while the first cause is at hand, 


which sufficiently accounts for every phenomenon in a 
believer s experience. Your constitution, your situation, 
your temper, your distemper, all that is either comfortable 
or painful in your lot, is of His appointment. The hairs 
of your head are all numbered : the same power which 
produced the planet Jupiter is necessary to the production 
of a single hair, nor can one of them fall to the ground without 
His notice, any more than the stars can fall from their 
orbits. In providence, no less than in creation, He is 
Maximus in minimis. Therefore fear not ; only believe. 
Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible 
Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, Feb. 23, 1779. 

ON Saturday, and not before, I heard you had been 
ill. Had the news reached me sooner, I should have sent 
you a line sooner. I hope you will be able to inform me 
that you are now better, and that the Lord continues to do 
you good by every dispensation He allots you. Healing and 
wounding are equally from His hand, and equally tokens of 
His love and care over us. I have but little affliction in 
my own person, but I have been often chastened of late by 
proxy. The Lord, for His people s sake, is still pleased to 
give me health and strength for public service ; but when 
I need the rod, He lays it upon Mrs. - . In this way I 
have felt much without being disabled or laid aside. But He 
has heard prayer for her likewise, and for more than a fort 
night past she has been comfortably well. I lay at least 
one half of her sickness to my own account. She suffers for 
me, and I through her. It is, indeed, touching me in a 
tender part. Perhaps, if I could be more wise, watchful, 
and humble, it might contribute more to the re-establish 
ment of her health, than all the medicines she takes. 

I somehow neglected to confer with you about the business 
of the fast-day. The last of my three sermons, when I had, 


as I expected, the largest congregation, was a sort of histori 
cal discourse from Deut. xxxii. 15, in which, running over 
the leading national events from the time of Wickliff, I 
endeavoured to trace the steps and turns by which the 
Lord has made us a fat and thriving people, and in the 
event blessed us beyond His favourite Jeshunm of old, 
with civil and religious liberty, peace, honour, and prosperity, 
and Gospel privileges. How fat we were when the war 
terminated in the year 1763, and how we have kicked and 
forsaken the Rock of our salvation of late years ! Then 
followed a sketch of our present state and spirit as a people, 
both in a religious and political view. I started at the 
picture while I drew it, though it was a very inadequate 
representation. We seemed willing to afflict our souls for 
one day, as Dr. Lowth reads Isa. Iviii. 5. But the next day 
things returned into their former channel ; the fast and the 
occasion seemed presently forgotten, except by a few simple 
souls, who are despised and hated by the rest for their 
preciseness, because they think sin ought to be lamented 
every day in the year. 

Who would envy Cassandra her gift of prophecy upon the 
terms she had it, that her declarations, however true, should 
meet with no belief or regard ? It is the lot of Gospel 
ministers, with respect to the bulk of their hearers. But 
blessed be the grace which makes a few exceptions ! Here 
and there, one will hear, believe, and be saved. Every one 
of these is worth a world ; and our success with a few should 
console us for all our trials. 

Come and see us as soon as you can, only not to-morrow, 

for I am then to go to T . My Lord, the Great Shepherd, 

has one sheep there, related to the fold under my care. I 
can seldom see her, and she is very ill : I expect she will be 

soon removed to the pasture above. Our love to Mrs. B . 

Believe me yours, &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, April 23, 

MAY I not style myself a friend, when I remember you 
after the interval of several weeks since I saw you, and 
through a distance of three-score miles ? But the truth is, 
you have been neither absent nor distant from my heart 
a day. Your idea has travelled with me ; you are a kind 
of familiar, very often before the eye of my mind. This, 
I hope, may be admitted as a proof of friendship. 

I know the Lord loves you, and you know it likewise : 
every affliction affords you a fresh proof of it. How wise 
His management in our trials ! How wisely adjusted in 
season, weight, continuance, to answer His gracious purposes 
in sending them ! How unspeakably better to be at His 
disposal than at your own ! So you say ; so you think ; 
so you find. You trust in Him, and shall not be disappointed. 
Help me with your prayers, that I may trust Him too, and 
be at length enabled to say without reserve, " What Thou 
wilt, when Thou wilt, how Thou wilt." I had rather speak 
these three sentences from my heart, in my mother-tongue, 
than be master of all the languages in Europe. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, Aug. 19, 1779. 

AMONG the rest of temporal mercies, I would be thank 
ful for pen, ink, and paper, and the convenience of the 
post, by which means we can waft a thought to a friend 
when we cannot get at him. My will has been good to see 
you ; but you must accept the will for the deed. The Lord 
has not permitted me. 

I have been troubled of late with the rheumatism in my 
left arm. Mine is a sinful, vile body, and it is a mercy that 
any part of it is free from pain. It is virtually the seat and 
subject of all diseases ; but the Lord holds them like wild 


beasts in a chain, under a strong restraint ; were that 
restraint taken off, they would rush upon their prey from 
every quarter, and seize upon every limb, member, joint, 
andjierve, at once. Yet, though I am a sinner, and though 
my whole texture is so frail and exposed, I have enjoyed for 
a number of years an almost perfect exemption both from 
pain and sickness. This is wonderful indeed, even in my 
own eyes. 

But my soul is far from being in a healthy state. There 
I hdve laboured, and still labour, under a complication of 
diseases ; and, but for the care and skill of an infallible 
Physician, I must have died the death long ago. At this 
very moment my soul is feverish, dropsical, paralytic. I 
feel a loss of appetite, a disinclination both to food and to 
medicine : so that I am alive by miracle ; yet I trust I shall 
not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. When 
I faint He revives me again. I am sure He is able, and I 
trust He has promised, to heal me ; but how inveterate must 
my disease be, that is not yet subdued, even under His 
management ! 

Well, my friend, there is a land where the inhabitants 
shall no more say, " I am sick." Then my eyes will not be 
dim, nor my ear heavy, nor my heart hard. 

One sight of Jesus as he is 
Will strike all sin for ever dead. 

Blessed be His name for this glorious hope ! May it 
cheer us under all our present uneasy feelings, and reconcile 
us to every cross ! The way must be right, however rough, 
that leads to such a glorious end. 

O for more of that gracious influence, which in a moment 
can make the wilderness-soul rejoice and blossom like the 
rose ! I want something which neither critics nor com 
mentators can help me to. The Scripture itself, whether I 
read it in Hebrew, Greek, French, or English, is a sealed 
book in all languages unless the Spirit of the Lord is present 
to expound and apply. Pray for me. No prayer seems more 
suitable to me than that of the Psalmist : " Bring my soul 
out of prison, that I may praise Thy name." 

I am, &c. 



MY DEAR FRIEND, August 28, 1779. 

I WANT to hear how you are. I hope your complaint 
is not worse than when I saw you. I hope you are easier, 
and will soon find yourself able to move about again. I 
should be sorry, if to the symptoms of the stone you should 
have the gout superadded in your right hand ; for then you 
will not be able to write to me. 

We go on much as usual ; sometimes very poorly, 
sometimes a little better ; the latter is the case to-day. 
My rheumatism continues ; but it is very moderate and 
tolerable. The Lord deals gently with us, and gives us 
many proofs that He does not afflict willingly. 

The days speed away apace ; each one bears away 
its own burden with it, to return no more. Both pleasures 
and pains that are past are gone for ever. What is yet 
future will likewise be soon past. The end is coming. O to 
realize the thought, and to judge of things now in some 
measure suitable to the judgment we shall form of them, 
when we are about to leave them all ! Many things which 
now either elate or depress us, will then appear to be trifles 
light as air. 

One thing is needful : to have our hearts united to the 
Lord in humble faith ; to set Him always before us ; to 
rejoice in Him as our Shepherd and our portion ; to submit 
to all His appointments, not of necessity, because He is 
stronger than we, but with a cheerful acquiescence, because 
He is wise and good, and loves us better than we do our 
selves ; to feed upon His truth ; to have our understandings, 
wills, affections, imaginations, memory, all filled and 
impressed with the great mysteries of redeeming love ; to 
do all for Him, to receive all from Him, to find all in Him. 
I have mentioned many things, but they are all comprised in 
one, a life of faith in the Son of God. We are empty vessels 
in ourselves, but we cannot remain empty. Except Jesus 
dwells in our hearts, and fills them with His power and 
presence, they will be filled with folly, vanity, and vexation. 

I am, &c. 


MY DEAR FRIEND, October 26, 1779. 

BEING to go out of town to-day, I started up before 
light to write to you, and hoped to have sent you a long 
letter ; when, behold ! I could not get at any paper. I am 

now waiting for a peep at Mr. B at his lodgings, who 

came to town last night ; and I shall write as fast as I can 
till I see him. 

I feel for you a little in the same way as you feel for 
yourself. I bear a friendly sympathy in your late sharp 
and sudden trial. I mourn with that part of you which 
mourns : but, at the same time, I rejoice in the proof you 
have, and which you give, that the Lord is with you of a 
truth. I rejoice on your account, to see you supported and 
comforted, and enabled to say, " He has done all things 
well." I rejoice on my own account. Such instances of His 
faithfulness and all-sufficiency are very encouraging. We 
must all expect hours of trouble in our turn. We must all 
feel in our concernments the vanity and uncertainty of 
creature-comforts. What a mercy is it to know from our 
own past experience, and to have it confirmed to us by the 
experience of others, that the Lord is good, a strong hold in 
the day of trouble, and that He knoweth them that trust 
in Him ! Creatures are like candles, they waste while they 
afford us a little light, and we see them extinguished in their 
sockets one after another. But the light of the sun makes 
amends for them all. The Lord is so rich that He easily 
can, so good that He certainly will, give His children more 
than He ever will take away. When His gracious voice 
reaches the heart, " It is I, be not afraid ; be still, and know 
that I am God ; " when He gives us an impression of His 
wisdom, power, love, and care, then the storm which 
attempts to rise in our natural passions is hushed into a 
calm ; the flesh continues to feel, but the spirit is made 
willing. And something more than submission takes place, 
a sweet resignation and acquiescence, and even a joy that 
we have anything which we value, to surrender to His call. 

Yours, &c. 




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